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When Is It OK To Take A Loan From My 401(k)?

A 401(k) is a benefit offered by many employers, whereby a certain amount of money is put aside each paycheck into a retirement account for the employee. Most plans are set up where the employee puts a part of their pay into the account each pay day, and the employer either matches what is put in or has a set amount deposited into the account. The funds are generally invested, so they grow over time, the end result being a nest egg for retirement. The money you designate for deposit is generally considered a tax deduction, so you also get the benefit of paying fewer taxes by making regular contributions to your company’s 401(k) plan. Withdrawals from a plan are permitted at retirement age, but can be taken earlier under certain circumstances.

One circumstance where an early withdrawal from a 401(k) is common is where the participant is experiencing financial hardship. Your plan administrator will be able to tell you the ramifications of taking an early withdrawal, which usually include tax consequences and the inability to participate in the plan for a certain time frame after taking money out for hardship purposes. Other instances where taking money out, either outright or in the form of a loan are:

  • First time home buyers.
  • Home repair.
  • Medical expenses.

If you do need extra cash and have it available from your 401(k), it is typically more advisable to take a loan than to take an outright distribution. A loan does not have the same tax implications as an early distribution, and in most cases you can still contribute while repaying the loan. However, if the relief you need is greater than what a loan can provide, you should consider filing bankruptcy instead. Bankruptcy offers long term relief rather than a short term fix, and does not require repayment of a loan, other than the loans you are currently repaying. Even then, you get to decide which loans to repay and which to eliminate, but that choice also requires you to pick which pieces of collateral you want to keep. Bankruptcy is a very viable solution for many distressed consumers, and we can give you all the details you need to decide if this is the right choice for your finances.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.



Should I Tap Into My Kids’ College Savings To Pay Bills?

Most children are not lucky enough to have a college savings when it comes time to apply to a school and decide where to spend the next four years while seeking a higher education. This is proven by taking a look at the growing amount of student loan debt in the United States, but this is not the case in every situation. If your kids are fortunate enough to have a college savings account, you might be wondering how to manage that money and if it is acceptable to draw on it early. While early withdrawals are allowed under most plans, there are consequences to taking money out of a college account before actually going to college.

If you are short on funds and considering tapping into your kids’ college savings to pay the bills, here are some things to know:

  • Any withdrawal not used for the purpose of the account is considered taxable income. This means you will receive a tax form at the end of the year, and have to pay taxes on the amount of money taken out for a non-college related expense.
  • On top of potential tax liability, you can also face payment of a penalty for withdrawing from a college savings account and using the funds to pay household bills.
  • The money you take out should ideally be redeposited in the same fiscal year. Doing so will not only keep your kids’ account at the same level, but it will also help the fund grow and provide you the tax benefit of making the deposit. This depends on the type of account, but many plans provide for at least a state related tax break for certain types of college savings plans.

If you are in such dire straits financially that you need to tap into your child’s college savings, it might be better for you to file a bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy is a legal way to eliminate or reduce debt, and it does not have the tax consequences associated with early college savings withdrawal. You will qualify for either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, depending on your income and debt situation, and we will let you know which type of case you are eligible to file. Let us help you get out of debt, by calling our office today to discuss your options.

For more information about how to manage debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.



How To Recover From Holiday Debt

Now that the holidays are over and the New Year has begun, most of us have taken the time to sit down and come up with some resolutions on how we want our lives to change. Some of the most popular resolutions center around diet, exercise, and money. But in order for a resolution to be effective, the person making it also has to make a commitment to see the resolution through to the end. This is challenging, because habits are hard to break. And if your resolution was to get out of debt, or just get debt under control, it may seem impossible if you are struggling just to pay the bills. A good place to start is to write down what you make, and what you spend, and try to strike a balance. And, if you overspent during the holiday season, now is a good time to recover from your holiday debt as well.

Some tips on how you can recover from holiday debt and get your finances in shape for the year ahead include:

  • Gather the receipts from your holiday shopping so you can add up what you spent. Then sit down and make a budget for this year’s list and try to reduce it by a reasonable amount. You can also shop early and year round to help offset the pinch you feel every winter when it comes time to put a gift in the mail for a loved one.
  • Set reachable goals for your daily spending, by cutting out things like fast food and specialty coffee shop stops. If you take small steps it will be easier to stay on track.
  • Write down your financial goals for the year, and come up with ideas on how you can reach those goals. This requires you to have a budget, and to know where your money is going each pay day.

Sometimes it takes professional help to get out of debt, or even to get a good start on knowing where your money is spent each month. We can help you outline your income and expenses, and show you solutions to get out of debt. One of those solutions is to file for bankruptcy, which will eliminate some of your debt or at least reduce it so that the bills you do have to pay are manageable. Elimination or reduction of debt will help you to stick to a budget, and put you in the best position to stay the course with any changes you want to make in your financial health. The first step is easy, and starts with calling our office to find out what will work for you.

For help handling overwhelming debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.



Why Aren’t My Student Loans Eligible For Bankruptcy?

Student loan debt is one of the largest growing debts in America. Most students come out of college and/or graduate school with insurmountable amounts of debt. Unfortunately it is necessary for most students to rely on student loans to pay tuition and cover other expenses related to their education, but upon graduation it is difficult to find a job that pays enough to repay educational loans. When consumers are overwhelmed by debt they often times turn to bankruptcy as a way to alleviate financial pressure. But not all debts are eliminated by filing bankruptcy, so before you file you need to know what you will and will not gain by filing a case.

If you are looking to get rid of your student loan debt by filing bankruptcy, you need to know the obstacles in place that may prevent that from happening:

● In order to discharge student loan debt you have to prove that you have made a good faith effort to pay back the loans prior to filing bankruptcy.
● You must also establish that if you are required to repay your loans, you and your dependents will suffer an undue financial hardship. This can be hard to prove, because the standard is pretty high. Most families have access to more than one income, and since your dependents rely on you as well as their other parent, whatever income your spouse makes will be taken into consideration when determining whether repayment of student loans is a hardship for your family. Most people are unable to prove this requirement.

These reasons are what make it hard to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, and most debtors do not even try. But each case is different, and it is worth taking a look at your specific situation before dismissing the idea off the bat. If you have large student loans and a small income, let us take a look at your case and give you a realistic outlook on what you can expect if you file bankruptcy. If you are not able to include your student loans in your bankruptcy, you may want to reconsider your options, especially if student loans are your only debt. We can help you find other ways to get out of debt if bankruptcy is not right for you, and we can also help you get out of debt by filing bankruptcy if that meets your needs.

For help with your questions about finances and how to get out of debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that help get you back on your feet.

Three Things Bankruptcy Can Do For You

Bankruptcy is a scary word to a lot of people, and the idea of actually filing a case is even scarier. But bankruptcy is a very real way to get out of debt and to stay out of debt. This is important if you are drowning in credit card bills, have a lot of medical expenses, or have had to rely on signature loans just to get by each month. When you file a bankruptcy case you can eliminate or at least drastically reduce these debts, and can also manage your secured obligations as well.

Three things bankruptcy can do for you if you need financial relief are:

● Stop wage garnishments and other collection lawsuits that are pending against you. When you file a bankruptcy case you get the benefit of the automatic stay, which is a legal mechanism that prohibits continued collection efforts from the instant your case is filed. When creditors are required to stop their efforts against you, you get a breath of fresh air and can rest easy knowing you won’t be called and harassed for payments you are unable to make.
● Wipe out unsecured debt, like credit cards and other loans that were not taken out for the purpose of buying a piece of collateral. Unsecured debt is one of the largest debts most households deal with monthly, and not having to make these payments relieves a huge amount of undue stress.
● Reorganize your debt into a manageable repayment plan. This is what happens when you file a Chapter 13 case and are given the opportunity to propose a plan of repayment for all of your debts. In a Chapter 13 case you will be able to cure any mortgage arrearage, pay back only a portion of unsecured debt, and pay the value rather than the balance for your vehicles. This type of bankruptcy provides substantial savings, giving you more money each month to cover other expenses like utilities and insurance.

If you are unable to pay all of your bills, filing bankruptcy will give you the relief you need to start over. Even though it might seem like an uphill climb, once you take the first step you are well on your way to financial freedom.

For answers to your questions about debt, contact us at

How To Protect A Co-Signer In Bankruptcy

Sometimes it is necessary to have a friend or family member co-sign a loan for you when you need extra cash, or need to finance a large purchase like a car. A co-signer is just as financially responsible for repayment of the debt as the original obligor, and the bank will look to that person for payment if the loan becomes delinquent. If you have taken out any loans with the use of a co-signer and now unable to make the payments, your co-signer needs to be made aware of the situation as soon as possible. Rather than have your lenders come after your co-signer for payment, you may be able to work out other arrangements. For instance, perhaps all you need is a bit of breathing room to get back on your feet, and having your co-signer pay the bank while you pay the co-signer is a good idea. This works well if the co-signer is a good friend or a parent, who may be more willing to accept payment from you in order to keep the loan in good standing.

But, if you are not able to make any kind of payment and need to file bankruptcy, your co-signer is exposed to liability for the loan. This is true unless the co-signer also takes the protection offered by bankruptcy, and that most frequently happens in the following situations:

• The co-signer is your spouse.
• The co-signer is also facing financial hardship.

If your co-signer is unwilling to file bankruptcy also, you can take steps within your own bankruptcy case to offer protection to the co-signer. The best protection you can offer is to reaffirm the loan. A reaffirmation agreement is just like a new contract, and you are just as financially obligated to repay the loan after bankruptcy as you were before your case was filed. In this instance, the lender will still ask you for repayment instead of looking to your co-signer for the funds. Of course if you default on the reaffirmation agreement, both parties are still responsible for repayment. But, sticking to a reaffirmation agreement is usually not a problem, because other debts you have are no longer due when you file bankruptcy, which gives you the financial capability of making the payments on the reaffirmed debt.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at

Four Ways To Tell If Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Is Right For You

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is a difficult one, and it is made all the more hard when you realize you have to determine what type of case you are eligible to file. The two types of bankruptcy available to individual and joint consumer debtors are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 case you are able to discharge all of your unsecured debt. Unsecured debt is debt that is not tied to piece of collateral. The most common form of unsecured debt is credit card debt, and credit cards are what land most people in overwhelming debt. So, being able to wipe out credit card debt is a big incentive to file for bankruptcy. But, you do need to know if this type of case is right for you, and if it will meet your financial needs.

Here are four easy ways to tell if filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you:

• If you are behind on your credit card payments, you will benefit from filing a Chapter 7 case.
• If you are not able to pay for necessary living expenses like gas and groceries without using a credit card, you should consider filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
• If you are receiving calls about past due payments, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will give you the relief you need.
• If you are being sued or have judgments against you for collection, which have been reduced to a wage garnishment or are not far away from a garnishment being issued, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stop those actions so you can keep your entire paycheck.

Holding on to as much of your take home pay as possible, and eliminating high interest rate debt so you can focus on other payments are two of the biggest benefits to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. However, there are certain requirements that have to be met before you will be allowed to file a Chapter 7 and one of those requirements is performance of a complex mathematical computation to demonstrate your need for Chapter 7. If you do not perform the test properly, or if the test shows you do not qualify for a Chapter 7 you will need to look how a Chapter 13 case can help you sort through your finances. We can do this for you, and will do it properly. Getting the answers you need right the first time is essential to the success of any financial problem, and that is especially true if you are filing bankruptcy. Let us put our experience to work for you!

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Will My Social Security Be Safe In Bankruptcy?

After working a lifetime, it is nice to retire with financial security. For many, part of their retirement is social security payments from the government, so keeping these funds safe is of paramount importance. If you are receiving social security payments, but experiencing financial difficulty, you may be wondering types of actions put your social security payments at risk. Specifically, you may have questions as to whether your social security is safe if you file for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is a way to get rid of debt that you cannot pay, but it is not a blank check to stop paying debts and keep property or to keep certain funds that are not otherwise exempt. With social security, you can rest easy knowing it will be outside the reach of your creditors if you file bankruptcy. But there are some exceptions and it is important to have an understanding of a few scenarios before you file a bankruptcy case. For example:

• If you received funds from the Social Security Administration prior to filing bankruptcy, those funds are safe as long as they have not been commingled with other funds.
• If you expect to receive social security payments after you file a bankruptcy case, you will need to keep those funds separate from other income and document the separation for the benefit of the trustee assigned to your bankruptcy case. Doing so will make it clear from the outset the source of your funds, and prevent inquiry concerning whether your money is safe.
• If you have commingled social security with other monies, such that it is impossible to determine the source of your money, the bankruptcy court may attempt to seize your money regardless of the source.

We understand the need to maintain an income stream, especially if you have the need to file for bankruptcy, and can help ensure your social security remains untouched. Issues surrounding social security payments and how that money is impacted by filing for bankruptcy can become complex, and should be given the special attention needed to keep those monies safe and out of the reach of your creditors. We know how to pinpoint potential issues that might jeopardize your social security, and head them off before they become problematic.

For more information about how to manage debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

How Does Having Equity In My House Help Me Get Out Of Debt?

If you have equity in your house then you have options available to you to get out of debt that those without equity lack. Equity in your home can be drawn on to pay down debt, or to pay it off in full. In order to get at the equity though, you do have to ask the lender to make it available. The first step in this process is to have an appraisal done so you know exactly how much your home is worth. The amount of value over and above what you owe on your mortgage is considered the equity, and is a valuable asset to have in your possession.
Once you know what your home is worth, you can ask your lender to make an equity line of credit loan. This type of loan acts as a second mortgage on your home and is required to be repaid.

Once you take out a second mortgage, you have two house payments to make each month, so it is imperative to determine if taking the equity is a financially prudent move to make. Here are a few ways you can tell if using equity to pay off debt is best for you:

• If the equity amount is significant compared to what you owe, you can save money by taking the equity and paying off all of your debt at once.
• The interest rate on the home equity loan should not be higher than the interest rates on the debt you intend to repay. If it is, you will not save money by using equity to pay off debt.
• The time it takes to repay an equity loan should not be longer than the amount of time it would take to pay off the debt you intend to use the equity loan for; if so you are not making any financial headway.

If you have already used the equity in your home to pay off debt and are still in financial distress, you can exercise other options to get out of debt. One of those options is to file for bankruptcy, which is a legal way to eliminate debts. In bankruptcy you have the ability to wipe out unsecured debts entirely, or at least reduce the amount you owe.

For more information about how to handle overwhelming debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Four Shocking Celebrity Money Problems

Hollywood is full of surprises, sometimes films that seem like a total dud turn out to be a summer blockbuster and sometimes the public doesn’t agree with the Academy’s choice for an Oscar award. These surprises aside, there should not really be much about Tinseltown that causes too much shock and awe, because celebrities are always reinventing themselves, changing spouses, and making bold political statements. That said, it still does come as a huge shock to the movie going public when a major star suffers a financial set back. This may be because the average paycheck in Hollywood is enormously larger than the average worker’s take home pay and not being able to hang on to such a large paycheck is a hard concept to grasp. But, it does happen.

Four shocking celebrity money problems include:

● Bankruptcy: the list of celebrities that have filed for bankruptcy is nearly a mile long. Stars from Kim Basinger to 50 Cent have filed for bankruptcy protection, as has talk show host Larry King. Bankruptcy is not necessarily a shocking money problem, but it often does come as a surprise when a superstar needs to file a case.
● Working odd jobs: when times get tough most of us take on extra work or do an odd job or two to make extra cash. But this is not something we often think about a celebrity having to do, although it has happened. A good example is George Foreman, who turned in his boxing gloves for an apron and turned his financial situation around by promoting the George Foreman grill.
● Going back to work: we all dream of retiring one day, and waking up naturally instead of relying on an alarm clock. But when funds fall short, even the best of us have to go back to work. Again, George Foreman is a good example, because he returned to the ring when other ventures stopped paying what he needed.
● Living well outside your means: we are all tempted from time to time to splurge, but know that doing so can put a pinch on monthly finances. No one knows this better than the stars and musicians. Think Michael Jackson, and the outrageous cost of maintaining Neverland, which left the King of Pop’s estate in less than perfect financial straits.

We can all fall prey to making a financial misstep, but there are solutions. Bankruptcy will eliminate or reduce debt. Mortgage modifications can lower interest rate on your mortgage and give you a lower monthly payment, and other options like refinance and consolidation are at your disposal. Stop searching for answers, and let us guide you towards the right method of debt management for you.

For help with your questions about finances and how to get out of debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that help get you back on your feet.