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What Are The Three Most Important Budget Goals?

Coming up with a budget for your monthly expenses is one thing, finding a way to stick to that budget is quite another. Most of us are capable of writing down how much we make and how much we pay out each month in expenses. But all of us can fall prey to an impulse buy or fall into spending habits that deplete our reserve and leave us over budget and unable to pay all of our bills. In order to avoid this problem it is good to know what types of expenses you should give priority to in your budget and what long term financial goals you want to meet.

Three of the most important things to include in your budget are:

  • Emergency funds to cover things like unexpected car or home repairs, or medical expenses.
  • Realistic monthly expenses, which means if you spend $500 a month on groceries to feed a family of 4 and are running out of supplies quickly, don’t try to cut back in this area but instead find other spots where you can whittle away at your expenses.
  • Saving for the future. This is just as important as saving for emergencies because it gives you the financial security needed to cover expenses when you least expect them or when you are no longer of working age. Being able to put something aside for retirement years will allow you to stop working at your own pace rather than at the pace of your savings account.

Doing all of these things can help you to come up with a budget that works, but we understand there are still times when there is just simply not enough money to cover the things that need to be covered. If that is your situation you do have options. There is the possibility you can work out a loan modification or get lower interest rates, but you have to work with your lenders to receive these benefits. This may not be something your lenders are willing to do if you are behind on payments, so another choice is to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will free up some of your disposable income each month, which could allow you to stick to a budget and get a fresh start with your money. If you would like to know more about the benefits of budgets and bankruptcy, call our office.

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



Can My Lender Foreclose While I Am Trying To Refinance

Refinancing is a great way to lower your monthly payments and maybe even skip a payment or two. With mortgage rates decreasing all the time, taking advantage of just the right time on a refinance can help free up disposable income and give you just the breathing room you need. The problem many homeowners come across though is that during the refinance process, payments are not made. And when mortgage payments go unpaid, the lender usually takes action to foreclose. This is especially frustrating if you have been working with your current lender in an effort to have them rewrite their own loan, and they’ve advised you not to make your payments.

The process of dual tracking is strictly prohibited, and it works like this:

  • If you have asked your lender to look at refinance options on your behalf and that process is underway, the lender may not also foreclose while you are trying to work out a refinance or other repayment plan with them.
  • It is considered an unfair lending practice to work with a borrower on a possible refinance or other plan to save their home while also pursuing foreclosure remedies.
  • If you are trying to work out a loan modification or other agreement, you have to be at least 120 days past due before the lender can start a foreclosure.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau was put in place to help distressed consumers and to help borrowers deal with the complex lending system. With the buying and selling of mortgages and with so many loans being serviced by a third party is has become near impossible for a homeowner to know who to pay each month. Not only can it be difficult to identify your lender, but once you do figure out who to call you are often transferred too many times to count. This leads to important information being lost in translation, or simply never provided to the consumer. If you need help working out a solution for your mortgage that fits your budget, call our office.

For more information about foreclosures and the prohibition against dual tracking, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.



The Top Two Ways To Avoid Foreclosure

Having your home taken away from you is a devastating experience. This is true whether your home is destroyed by fire or another natural disaster, or you lose it to foreclosure sale because the payments have become too high. Unfortunately in today’s world many mortgage loans are spiraling out of control and the amount owed on most homes is currently more than the value. This puts many homeowners in the impossible situation of being forced to pay more than what their home is worth, or face being put out on the street. If you are having a hard time making your monthly house payment you might be concerned that the lender is going to start a foreclosure soon. This can cause you undue stress and anxiety and even put a strain on your relationships or make it difficult to concentrate while at work. But there are things you can do to ease the burden, and we can help.

The top two ways to avoid a foreclosure are:

  • A loan modification or refinance, which rewrites the terms of your loan with the most significant change being a lower interest rate. When your interest rate decreases, so does your payment. The lower your payment, the more breathing room you have in your monthly budget.
  • Filing for bankruptcy will also save your home from foreclosure. This is true regardless of whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case.

The difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that in a Chapter 7 you also get to wipe out your unsecured debt. But in a Chapter 13, you will have to pay back at least a portion of what you owe to your unsecured creditors. The test to determine which type of bankruptcy you are allowed to file is complex and requires a complicated mathematical analysis. Our staff is skilled at performing this analysis and explaining the process to you so you are comfortable with how bankruptcy works and how it will benefit you. To avoid a foreclosure, call us today. We will take immediate action on your behalf and keep you updated along the way.

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



How Many Mortgage Payments Can I Miss Before The Lender Forecloses?

If you are one payment behind on your mortgage, chances are you will not be given notice of a foreclosure tomorrow. But if you are several months behind it is likely your loan is up for foreclosure review at this very moment. The rule is that your lender cannot start a foreclosure until you are at least 120 days past due, but what happens after that is fair game.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) instituted the 120 day rule but it is important to understand what happens after that time period:

  • In Florida, a foreclosure is a judicial process, which means the lender has to actually file a lawsuit to foreclose its mortgage.
  • After the lawsuit is filed it has to be served on the borrower, and the borrower then has a set number of days to respond.
  • If the borrower does not respond to the lawsuit within the time frame allotted, the lender will have a judgment entered and then sell the property at foreclosure sale.
  • If the borrower files an answer, the process takes a bit longer because the lender is required to address the issues raised in the answer.

Common issues or defenses that are raised by homeowners are that the lender does not currently hold the note, or that the lender did not hold the note prior to initiation of the foreclosure case. You see, lenders have to follow the rules in place in order to start a foreclosure and one of those rules is that the lender actually has the right to foreclose. In order to show that the right to foreclose is vested in the lender who filed the suit, the lender has to prove to the Court that they are in possession of the loan. If this is not done, the lender is said to lack standing to foreclose and the suit should not proceed forward. There are other defenses that can be raised as well, and they should all be explored if you have been served with a foreclosure lawsuit. We have experience helping people find solutions to save their homes, and can help you too. Contact one of our trained debt management professionals today to find out your next step.

For more information about how to protect yourself from foreclosure, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that fit the facts of your case.



Who Holds My Mortgage And Why Does It Change?

Have you ever received your monthly mortgage statement in the mail and wondered who the lender was and why they were sending you mail? Many times the mortgage lender you originally make payments to when you first purchase your home does not stay the same the entire length of your loan term. Mortgages and the underlying notes are often bought and sold, or are serviced by a third party and all of this activity can make it hard to know where to send your payment. Countless homeowners have received statements from a never before heard of lender, and in some cases believed the notice was “junk mail”. When that happens it is easy to fail to remit payment, because as the homeowner you have become confused about where to send your money. The problem with this is that if you fail to pay, the lender will take action to collect what is due and may even begin the foreclosure process.

In order to avoid missing a payment, it is helpful to know why mortgage holders change and what you can do when you receive notice of a new loan or mortgage holder:

  • The buying and selling of mortgage notes helps to keep the lending markets liquid, which could mean less strict lending practices and a boost to the economy.
  • If your loan is sold you will not be asked to sign any new documents, and the terms you originally agreed to cannot change.
  • The only impact you should feel when your mortgage loan is sold is that you write your monthly mortgage payment check to a new entity.
  • If you have received notice of your loan being sold, be sure to update your records and if the account number is new now, given the loan is now with a new lender who may have had to change the way your loan is identified in their system, be sure to include your new account number with your payment so it is properly applied.

If you ever have a question about whether your payment was processed the way it was supposed to be, you should ask for a payment history. As the borrower you are entitled to be provided a copy of all transactions that have taken place on your account and an explanation of any discrepancy you find. Keeping good records yourself is the first step to making sure a new lender has credited all the payments you have made, and comes in handy as a defense to foreclosure if the lender’s records are incomplete. For more information about how mortgage loans work and what to do if you are behind on your payments, call us today.

For more information about how to find out who holds your mortgage loan and what you can do when a new lender fails to properly apply payments, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

What Is The Best Way To Get My Lender To Work With Me?


Most things in life can be accomplished a number of different ways. For instance, if there is a car accident on your way to work it is likely you know an alternate route. Another good example can be seen from sports, where if one play does not get the job done, another one will be tried. Knowing more than one way to do something gives you options and can help you reach your goals without too much frustration. The same is true for issues of money and in finding ways to make sure you don’t go over budget or fall behind on your financial obligations.

But, if you are behind on some payments the key is to stay in touch with your lender. Throwing away late notices or letting calls go to voice mail will not solve your money problems, and in the end may just cause you more grief. It can be scary to try and talk to your lenders, because it might feel like they have all of the power. But when you need results and a little financial relief, there are ways to get your creditors to work with you. Here are some common ways to approach lenders when you are behind on payments, or in danger of falling behind:

  • Initiate a call before the account gets too far behind. This shows you are making an effort to make the payments and are on top of the situation.
  • Have all of your financial data available when you call the lender. It is one thing to tell a representative on the other end of the phone line that you are experiencing hard times, and a completely different thing to be able to back up your words. Before calling, put a budget together and be prepared to provide proof of income and expenses.
  • Don’t be afraid to escalate your call to a supervisor. Most lenders will try to tell you there is nothing that can be done to help you, if that happens simply ask for a supervisor. A lot of times you can get more accomplished by going up the food chain to a person with more authority to work with you.

If none of these things work in your favor there are legal remedies you can take. Bankruptcy is a good option when lenders will not work with you on repayment, because in a bankruptcy the debt is no longer due. A word of caution here though, if you want to keep your things you will still have to pay. We can help you sort out what works best for you, and what type of action to take. If you have gotten nowhere with your creditors, call us to find out what type of bankruptcy you qualify for and what will be involved in your case.

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

The Difference Between Secured And Unsecured Debt

When you file bankruptcy a lot of attention is given to the distinction between secured and unsecured debt. Most people who find they need to file for bankruptcy attribute the need to having a large amount of unsecured debt. Unsecured debt is any debt for which collateral was not pledged as a part of the promise of repayment. Credit cards are the most common example of unsecured debt but there are other forms as well; such as signature and payday loans, and medical bills. The reason the difference between the two types of debt becomes important at bankruptcy is because depending on the chapter you file, you may have to repay some of your unsecured debt.

A bankruptcy filed under Chapter 13 requires the debtor to repay at least a portion of their unsecured debt, but in a Chapter 7 the debtor is allowed to eliminate their unsecured debt. Eliminating unsecured debt is more desirable than having to pay back even a portion because:

  • The monthly payments that were being made toward unsecured debt will no longer be required to be made, which puts more money in the debtor’s pocket.
  • A Chapter 7 case usually lasts between 6 to 9 months, but a Chapter 13 case (where unsecured debt is repaid in part) can take up to five years. It is the rare consumer who wants to be involved in their bankruptcy case for 60 months!

The key to being able to file a Chapter 7 instead of a Chapter 13 lies in the amount of income you make, as it compares to your secured debt. Secured debt is debt that has collateral pledged as security for the loan, like a car or home loan. When those types of purchases are made the vehicle you buy or the home you give a mortgage in are not technically your property until the loan is paid in full. Until that time the lender has an interest in the collateral, and this is why your home can be foreclosed on or your car repossessed. Debts that are secured by property are usually reaffirmed in the bankruptcy, or the debtor makes voluntary payments on the debt. This is because if the payments are not made, even with a bankruptcy, the lender can take the actions mentioned (foreclosure or repossession) because they have a security interest in the property. For a more thorough explanation, call our office and schedule an appointment. We will make sure you have a complete understanding of your debt before we file your case.

For more information about bankruptcy and the difference between secured and unsecured debt, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

How Is Eviction Different From Foreclosure?

Investing in a home is an important life step to take, and it is not one that everyone takes during their lifetime. Whether for financial reasons or because of personal choice, some people choose to rent an apartment or house instead of agreeing to a thirty year mortgage payment. But a lease agreement is similar to a mortgage in that if the payments are not made you can find yourself out of a place to live. The difference is that in a rental situation the landlord does not file a foreclosure case, but instead will initiate eviction proceedings against you.

An eviction is governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act and it is different from a foreclosure in these ways:

  • The resident does not have an ownership interest in the property in an eviction, but does in a foreclosure.
  • The controlling document in an eviction is the lease, but in a foreclosure the controlling documents are the promissory note and mortgage.

An eviction case is also a much faster action than is a foreclosure. Many of the defenses that area available in a foreclosure, such as challenging the lender’s ability to foreclosure by claiming the lender is not the note holder, is not also available in an eviction case. The most popular defense in an eviction case is to claim that the rent has been paid, but if you raise this defense you have to be prepared to provide proof of payment. You might also fight an eviction by claiming the landlord has breached the terms of the lease and that the nature of the breach is such that rent  need not be paid. Common examples are the landlord’s failure to maintain the property which results in the tenant spending money to make repairs. In that instance proof of the breach of lease will be required and you will also have to show that the actions you took were needed. In order to determine if you have a valid defense to an eviction, contact a knowledgeable debt management attorney. Call us today to learn more.

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



Five Foreclosure Facts You Need To Know Now

Your home is your largest investment, and it is where you go to relax and unwind from a long day, or to host parties with friends and family. Your home is also your biggest expense and for most people on tight budgets, staying in their home is priority number one when financial trouble hits. Knowing what to do in the event of a foreclosure will help you to keep your home, and will also help you learn how to communicate with your mortgage lender on their level.

With the rise in foreclosures in recent years, knowing what defense strategies work best will help you to keep your home. It might seem fruitless to take on the big banks but several homeowners have done just that, and won! NBC news reported on the issue at a time that was right in the middle of the foreclosure crisis, and the lessons learned then still apply today. Five things about foreclosures that you need to know now are:

  • In order to maintain a foreclosure matter the lender must have standing. Standing is a legal concept that means a party initiating an action must have the ability to do so. In the case of a foreclosure this starts by requiring the lender to show they actually hold your note.
  • The lender must submit documents to the Court properly and accurately. You are within your rights to question bank representative signatures and other information. If the documents are not authentic, the foreclosure case must stop.
  • You are entitled to a pay history, and should ask for one to be sure all the payments you have made are showing as credited to your account.
  • Some lenders will agree to a modification of your loan, but you have to ask. If you qualify, your payments can be reduced and perhaps the past due amount rolled back in to the modified loan so you are considered current.
  • If you are active duty military, the lender has to obtain special permission to enter a judgment against you. If the lender fails to take into account your military status you can fight the foreclosure.

If you are facing foreclosure, call us for help. We will help you identify a strategy that works for you and pursue remedies that keep you in your home.

For more information about how to defend a foreclosure case, contact us at We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Five Ways To Avoid Going Into More Debt If You Get Laid Off

Losing a job is never easy, it disrupts your daily routine and causes your budget to stretch even farther. If  your finances are already tight, being laid off can make it hard to make ends meet. It might be tempting to resort to credit, or to take out another mortgage on your home, but these steps can cause you more harm than good. With a little creativity, you can avoid going into a lot of debt in the event you find yourself unemployed.

The best thing you can do to avoid going into debt if you laid off if to have an emergency fund to fall back on, but this is not something that everyone is able to accomplish while they are working. In most cases paychecks are barely covering expenses, so it is hard to put money into a savings account to be there for an emergency like losing a job. This means you will have to come up with other solutions to avoid falling too far behind if you become unemployed. Five things you can do include:

  • Advise your credit cards you are no longer authorizing certain automatic drafts. If your car insurance or another recurring expense comes through a credit card (even on you pay off monthly), now is the time to stop using that card for this expense. Doing so will help save you interest and other fees that may accrue if you are no longer able to make payments on the card.
  • Reevaluate your budget and cut out what you can, even if it is just a temporary cut.
  • Pay only the minimum payment when possible, putting more into savings than to your existing debt. This may seem counterintuitive, but you can resume a payoff plan once you find a new job while ensuring you have enough money for your necessary expenses.
  • Call or write your creditors and ask for a deferment or a reduced interest rate so you can manage your payments.
  • Cancel vacations and other prepaid events, if you can get a refund.

You should also shop around for better rates on phone service and other monthly expenses that can be adjusted. Clipping coupons and shopping for generic brands will also save you money. If you are lucky enough to find a new job before you hit your financial bottom you will be able to start saving and repaying debt. But if you are not able to do so you do have options. Call us to find out if bankruptcy is right for you, or if negotiating settlements with your lenders will work.

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