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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.

 

Is The U.S. The Most Debt Laden Country?

It has been said over and over again that the U.S. is the most overweight country, but does this apply to areas other than the number of pounds the average American carries? With the country’s economy on the rebound is it safe to say other countries have more consumer debt than here in the States? And if so, how will the amount of consumer debt carried by foreigners impact the American economy and growth prospects?

The debt crisis in other countries applies not only to individual consumers, but to the governments as well. Even so, there are ways other countries outside the U.S. manage their debt. Some popular methods include:

● Living on a cash only basis.

● Refusing to take out additional debt until existing debt is paid in full.

● Avoiding high dollar purchases such as new cars or homes.

● Sharing the family home with extended family.

These tactics and ways of life may seem tempting, and with different tax laws in place many citizens are considering moving overseas to escape overwhelming debt. The problem with this plan is that your debt will follow you and making this kind of move requires cash. Because cash is a rare commodity for people with large amounts of debt, moving out of the country and starting over on a cash basis is not usually possible. The better way to manage debt is to tackle it head on and get back on solid ground. A debt management attorney can help you explore your options, whether what works best for you is bankruptcy or loan modifications, and make a decision that is doable.

If you are unable to meet your monthly obligations as they become due, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Did Your Bad Health Cause Bankruptcy, Or Did Money Cause Your Bad Health?

Most of us are just one catastrophic accident away from financial ruin. All it could take is a major health problem to deplete your savings and retirement funds. When serious medical issues arise though the focus should be on getting well, and not on how the bills will get paid. That said, there is a large number of bankruptcy filings that are the result of astronomical medical bills or the result of some other serious health issue. But have you ever wondered if your bad health is the cause of the bankruptcy, or the result?

There is plenty of evidence out there that points to the conclusion that financial stress can actually trigger medical problems. Consider the following possible significant health problems that are commonly associated with stress, and financial stress in particular:

● High blood pressure.

● Heart attacks.

● Emotional trauma.

With upwards of 75% of American families carrying heavy debt loads it is not surprising that money is a leading cause of stress. When you don’t have a handle on your finances it is easy to feel out of control in other areas of your life. This debt-stress connection begs the question of whether medical issues cause money problems, or whether money problems cause medical issues. Regardless of the source of your financial woes, the best thing you can do for your bank balance and your health is to take steps to get out of debt. Bankruptcy is a viable option for many and can work for you too.

If you are unable to meet your monthly obligations as they become due, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Do People Wait Too Long To File Bankruptcy?

The idea that people who file for bankruptcy are financially irresponsible is way off the mark. People from all walks of life seek the protection of bankruptcy and the benefits it provides are immeasurable. In most instances the filer has exhausted every option and opportunity to repay their debt, and use bankruptcy as a final resort. In fact, studies show that the majority of those that file bankruptcy wait a long period of time before taking this huge financial step. This is an indication that a lot of careful thought goes into the decision and filing bankruptcy is not something most people take lightly.

The problems with waiting too long to file for bankruptcy include:

● Filing on the eve of a foreclosure sale or wage garnishment, which can cause undue stress in an already stressful situation. Gathering the documents needed to file bankruptcy and preparing the case takes time, and when the process is rushed errors can be made.

● Throwing good money after bad depletes your already low resources. When you wait too long to file bankruptcy and just keep afloat by making minimum payments you are wasting precious funds.

● Delay in starting to rebuild your credit. Taking too long to make the decision to file bankruptcy means you must wait that much longer before you can start repairing your credit.

If an honest review of your finances shows that you are unlikely to see an improved financial condition in the next six months, then bankruptcy could be right for you. If you wait to start the case you lose time and opportunities to ease the burden overwhelming finances place on you and your family. We can help you get on the road to financial freedom sooner than you think; call us today to get started.

If you have overwhelming debt, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your case and develop a strategy specifically tailored for your needs. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.