Category : Bankruptcy

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How To Take Full Advantage Of Your 401(k)

No one wants to work forever, and most people look forward to their retirement years. But, in order to fully enjoy your retirement, you must be financially prepared. Social security will only go so far, and for many working Americans there is a real threat social security will not be available. So, what do you do? Making wise investment choices and spending less are good places to start preparing for the day you clock out for the last time.

One important place to look for beneficial savings is the very place you are looking to leave; your job! If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, take full advantage by doing the following:

●          Begin contributing as soon as you are eligible.

  • Contribute as much of your paycheck as you can, this will ensure you receive the maximum employer match and will grow your account faster.
  • If you are starting at a later age, be sure to contribute more than your younger co-workers. After a certain age, you are eligible to put more into your 401(k) and still receive the same pre-tax benefits your younger counterparts receive for contributing less.
  • Make wise choices on which investments to include. Having a good mix of moderate to more risky investments is usually best.

If you aren’t participating in your company’s 401(k), you are leaving free money on the table and hurting yourself. We understand deciding where to put your money for the future is confusing, and can help you make these important choices. Our goal is to save you money, get you out of debt, and plan for your future. We can help you accomplish your financial goals by stepping in to advocate for you with creditors, help you to avoid a wage garnishment or foreclosure, and seek debt relief on your behalf in the form of bankruptcy or by negotiating a debt consolidation or other workout plan. Call us today for help.

 

If you have questions about 401(k)’s, or other financial and debt related questions, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Savings Strategies That Work

Putting a little money aside every month can be hard. This is especially true if you are already on a tight budget. But, with a little discipline, you can quickly accumulate a nest egg that will be there for you in the case of an emergency. The peace of mind you gain by cutting back here and there in order to save is well worth the effort.

Some savings strategies that are tried and true, and actually work, are:

  • The $5.00 Plan: this strategy requires you to save every $5.00 bill you receive. Whether it is change for a purchase, or a gift from grandma, put it aside. In about a year’s time you can save close to $2,000.00 with this strategy.
  • Save every week: on the first week of this plan, save $1.00, on the second week put aside $2.00, and so on. By doing this, you are able to set small amounts of money aside, but those amounts quickly add up to significant savings.
  • Go to trade schools for dinners out, haircuts, and other professional services. Many schools offer discounted or free services, because they are performed by students. This is a win/win situation, you get to save money and the students get to learn.

The key is to pick a plan that works for you. If you are unable to commit to saving every $5.00 bill you receive, try something else. You can also combine more than one method of savings. The benefit to having a savings is that when something unexpected comes up, you do not have to resort to credit or go to family and friends to borrow money. For more information on savings, budgets, and how to take control of your finances, call our office. We are here to help you reach your financial goals, and can offer legal solutions when you have exhausted other remedies.

 

If you facing collection of NSF fees, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

The Real Problem With Living Paycheck To Paycheck

If you are like most Americans, you live on a tight budget. Many even live from paycheck to paycheck, making their salary stretch for weeks or even months at a time before receiving the next infusion of funds. Living this way is stressful, and leaves little to no room for emergencies. Therein lies the problem with living paycheck to paycheck, being unprepared for an unexpected event.

There are other consequences to spending the exact amount, or more than you earn. Among the problems with paycheck to paycheck living, even on a decent salary are:

  • Emergency situations wind up getting paid for by credit, which costs you more than the value of the service due to the interest.
  • Luxury items are out of reach, which has a negative impact on the economy. When consumer spending is down, companies are forced to reduce their workforce, which leads to job cuts. These cuts lead to an increase in dependency on social programs and can stagnate economic growth.

●          It is impossible to save or invest.

This way of life is familiar to even those that earn a good living. This is because the more we get, the more we seem to believe we need. Overspending is becoming a bigger problem than overeating, and the consequences are just as harsh. Eventually living from week to week will catch up with you, and the need for serious debt relief will surface. You do have options, and they are designed to get you back on your feet and give you a fresh start. Whether you are considering bankruptcy, debt consolidation, need help making a budget, or have general questions about debt management, we can help. Call our office today, and begin taking the steps that will get your finances back on track.

 

If you have questions about debt, let an experienced attorney help you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

The Importance Of Sticking To A Budget

Creating a budget, and sticking to it, is essential to a healthy financial position. Understanding and knowing where you money goes will help you to make responsible financial decisions. This is true even if you are not primarily responsible for paying your household’s bills. The key is to take your income, subtract your expenses, and then spend only a portion of what is leftover. When you spend only part of the excess, you will then be able to save for when unexpected expenses surface.

When developing a budget, be sure to take the following expenses into account:

● Mortgage or rent.

● Car payments.

● Utilities.

● Student loans.

● Credit cards.

● Cell and landline phone expenses

When considering your car and mortgage payments, don’t forget about insurance and real estate taxes. If you rent and pay renter’s insurance, this amount should be included in your monthly housing figure. With automobiles, you need to include a figure for gas and maintenance. Also be sure to account for what you spend at the grocery store, and on entertainment. Be careful not to exclude any recurring monthly charges such as a gym membership or a toll road account. The benefits to budgeting your money are that you can avoid late fees and high interest rates, as well as easing the anxiety that comes with living from paycheck to paycheck. If you are able to identify places where you can cut back, do so. Even if a cut back is only temporary, you can begin a savings by cutting out your morning coffee or by taking your lunch to work a few days of the week.

 

If you need help with your budget, contact our office. Even if you are considering bankruptcy, a budget is still required for that purpose, we can help you put your expenses down on paper and figure out where your money goes each month. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

 

How Bankruptcy Can Benefit A Small Business

Even though most all bankruptcy cases are filed by individuals or families, a business can also seek the protections offered by the bankruptcy laws. When a business is struggling to pay its vendors or to make payroll, it may be time for a reorganization. Business bankruptcy can be beneficial to a small business because it offers some breathing room and a chance to get back on track.

The Small Business Administration has a good rundown of the types of bankruptcy available to a small business:

  • Chapter 7: while usually reserved for individuals, if your business is a sole proprietorship, or so tied up with your personal finances, this chapter may work best for you. This is especially true if your plans are to close the business rather than continue in operation.
  • Chapter 11: if, on the other hand, you want to keep your doors open, a Chapter 11 is a better fit. This type of bankruptcy allows you to stay in business, and repay your creditors over time.
  • Chapter 13: also typically reserved for individuals, Chapter 13 can be filed by a small business and allows for a reorganization of debt.

There are also options available to farmers, and fishermen. The type of bankruptcy you file depends on your plans, and your needs. Whatever choice you make, rest assured once you file the calls and collection efforts will come to a stop. This benefit may be the biggest of all, because it gives you the opportunity to focus on your business and its growth rather than on fielding collection attempts.  You might also consider a workout or other loan modification for your largest debts, which could give you the time and flexibility to pay smaller debts and free up capital. For more information about filing bankruptcy for a small business, call our office today.

 

If you have questions about how bankruptcy can benefit your small business, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Is Bankruptcy The Answer To The Foreclosure Crisis?

Is it a buyer’s market, or a seller’s market? This is an important question if you are in the market for a house, or are trying to sell your home. But, it may not matter, and the foreclosure upswing the country saw a few years ago may be getting ready to hit again. When the economy slowed, thousands of homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure, or opted to file bankruptcy to avoid a foreclosure. In recent years, the market seems to have stabilized somewhat, but financial experts warn another round of foreclosures may be just around the corner.

A PBS report outlines the issues as follows:

● Many families are working multiple jobs, just to maintain mortgage payments.

● Most lenders are failing to work with struggling homeowners to lower interest rates, re-write loans, or reduce payments to a manageable level.

● When mortgage holders do seem helpful, the process is long and confusing, leaving many borrows uncertain as to the result.

The problem is the same now as it was then, most homes are valued at less than what is owed. This leaves owners unable to sell their property to get out from under the loan, and many lenders unwilling to help. One possible answer is to seek the protection of bankruptcy. When filing bankruptcy, a consumer can opt for a Chapter 13, which will allow the borrower to keep their home and pay only its value rather that what is due. This will ensure the lender receives at least a portion of what is owed, and will give the debtor a chance to regain financial footing.

If you are unable to meet your monthly obligations as they become due, call our office for help. We can help you stay in your home, and develop a budget that fits your financial situation. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Can I Cram Down My Mortgage In Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a popular way to avoid foreclosure, and allow you to get back on your feet and able to make your mortgage payments. There are two main types of consumer bankruptcy, a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 is like a liquidation, which means most of your debt (usually unsecured debt, like a credit card) is eliminated. For things you want to hang on to, in a Chapter 7 you will have to keep making the payments. This can be problematic if your budget is too tight to make the payments without filing bankruptcy. So, what is the answer? A Chapter 13 might be more appropriate for you, because it is more like a debt consolidation. What this means is that you have the ability to pay less for certain debts. This is referred to as “cramming down” the value, and it can significantly reduce the amount of your monthly payments.

A Chapter 13 Plan provides the blueprint for repayment of your debt, over a period of up to five years. In a Chapter 13, repayment is based off of the value of property rather than the amount due. Repaying the value is how the cram down of the loan is achieved. For a mortgage, the following factors come into play:

● The property must be investment property rather than your primary residence.

● The value of the property is less than what is owed.

● Second mortgages can also be crammed down.

The benefits of a cram down are that your payments are reduced. The reduction in payment is achieved by paying a lower balance, and might also include making payments at a lower rate. When you file bankruptcy and are successful in paying less than what is owed, you also benefit because any deficiency remaining is no longer due. For more information on how you can pay less for a mortgage through bankruptcy, call our office.

If you are underwater on a loan for real property, let an experienced attorney help you. We fight save you money in interest payments, and also by paying the value of your property rather than an inflated amount due. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What To Do When Collection Efforts Persist After Bankruptcy

The purpose of filing bankruptcy is to give the honest, but unfortunate debtor a fresh financial start. The goal is discharge of debt, which means debts that were once due are no longer required to be paid after the bankruptcy case is over. When you file bankruptcy, your creditors are given notice and they are prohibited from contacting you to collect what is owed. This is also true after the bankruptcy is over. Upon receiving a discharge of debt, the creditor can no longer seek recover the balance of the loan. However, there are instances where a creditor continues to call or send letters, and if you are in this situation you should take action against the creditor.

Because the bankruptcy discharge acts as an injunction against future collection of the debt, if  a creditor persists in doing so, you can file a case against that particular creditor. Some common causes of collection efforts after the discharge include:

● The debt being sold to a party that is unaware of the bankruptcy.

● Poor record keeping by the creditor.

● The debt was not listed in your bankruptcy, even though it was owed when you filed.

Sometimes simply advising the creditor of the bankruptcy information will stop the calls. This can be the case for a creditor that bought the debt from the original lender, but was not advised of the bankruptcy filing. In that instance, providing the case number and discharged date may do the trick. For debts that were inadvertently left off your bankruptcy, the Court still considers them discharged and advising the creditor as such should stop the collection efforts. However, there are cases where educating the creditor about the filing and discharge don’t work, and collection tactics continue longer after your bankruptcy case has ended. When that happens, you have the right to sue the creditor for violating the discharge order, and you can recover monetary damages for the violation. A trained consumer bankruptcy attorney can help in this endeavor, and will fight for the compensation you deserve.

If you are being contacted for payment of a debt discharged in bankruptcy, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Avoiding Student Loan Collection Harassment

The cost of college or post graduate programs is quickly skyrocketing. Many graduates are finding it difficult to make their student loan payments, and are even resorting to working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. A student loan is just like any other debt, and if it goes unpaid the lender will call to collect. If you are significantly behind on your student loan payments, collection calls and letters will start, and can rise to the level of harassment if left unanswered.

 

The options available to keep student loan lenders off your back vary. Some of the more popular programs and options include:

● Consolidation: this option allows you to wrap all of your education loans into one, giving you a longer repayment term, which will lower your payments.

● Income sensitive payments: this repayment plan bases your monthly payment on your income, and can greatly reduce the payment amount depending on your salary.

● Forbearance: most student loans automatically go into a forbearance status upon graduation, and remain in this status for 6 months. Upon expiration of the first 6 months, repayment begins. However, you can seek extension of this period, and hold off on making payments until you find a job that pays enough to cover the payments.

The possibilities are all valid and legal, and will stop the calls. When you enter a forbearance status, the lender is not permitted to contact you for payment. Likewise, if you qualify for an income sensitive payment, the lender cannot ask you to pay a higher amount. There are options for you if you are having a hard time making your student loan payments. A skilled debt management attorney can help explain the options, and give you the information needed to decide which choice works best for you.

If you are looking for ways to take the sting out of high student loan payments and stop the collection calls, contact our office for help. We will explain your options, so you understand your choices and can make a decision that meets your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Changed Circumstances May Require A Change To Your Bankruptcy

Few things in life remain the same forever. Luckily there are options for making changes, and this is true even if you are in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case that has already been approved by the Court. Aside from having to repay a portion of your unsecured debt, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is undesirable to most because of the belief that once a plan is made for repayment it cannot be altered. A lot of consumer debtors believe they will be tied to the payment for the duration of the case, which is usually 5 years. This can be scary, because circumstances change and without the ability to modify the plan it can feel like you are locked into an amount that might not work for the entire plan term.

The saving grace is that you can change your Chapter 13 plan payments when circumstances warrant a change. Common reasons for seeking a modification to your Chapter 13 plan payment schedule include:

● A decrease in income due to job loss or underemployment.

● An increase in expenses due to unforeseen circumstances that did not exist when the bankruptcy was filed.

● Underestimating the amount of claims that creditors will make in the Chapter 13 case, which can mean the proposed plan payment needs to increase. This can require a debtor to modify the plan to account for an increased payment need.

● Seeking a reduction in the plan payment amount as certain debts pay off during the pendency of the case.

The critical thing to remember is that you are not “stuck” with a confirmed Chapter 13 plan if your circumstances change. You will have to ask for the Court to approve a modification, but this task is simple in comparison to complying with a confirmed plan that no longer meets your needs. The process is worth the results and skilled bankruptcy attorneys can help make sure your are satisfied with the results.

If you need help with a Chapter 13 matter after the Plan has been confirmed, call our office. We explain the process and help you reach results that fit the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.