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Tips For Successful Debt Consolidation

It would be nice to be debt free, and have no monthly obligations to meet. This would free you up to save your money for a rainy day, to take a trip, or to make repairs to your home. But, this is simply not the reality most of us face. Perhaps the next best thing is to have a simplified debt program, whereby you make one monthly payment for all of your monthly expenses. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.

Debt consolidation can be done in or out of Court. Here’s how:

  • Bankruptcy: A chapter 13 bankruptcy takes all of your debt and puts in a plan of repayment. The Court will review and approve the plan, and depending on what you owe, you will make one payment to the Trustee each month. The Trustee will then pay your creditors, some in full and some only a portion of what you owe. This results in substantial savings to you, and also makes paying your bills easier because you only make one payment that covers nearly all your debt. There will be a few things that you have to pay separately, such as utilities and living expenses, and perhaps your house payment.
  • Consolidation of debt: there are numerous companies out there that offer services to consolidate your debt. The typical arrangement is that you allow the company to negotiate lower payments on your behalf, and you then make a monthly payment to that company for disbursement to your creditors. This is similar to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but takes place without actually filing bankruptcy.

The choice is yours, and should be made after careful thought. Keep in mind not all creditors work with debt consolidation companies, but are required to accept a Court approved bankruptcy plan. There are also consolidation companies out there that prey on distressed consumers, and offer no real help. Do your research before making a commitment, and let us help you with that task. We have experience helping to get people out of debt, and can help you too!

 

If you have questions about debt consolidation and whether it will work for you, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

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.

Is A Home Equity Loan A Good Idea?

When trying to get out from under overwhelming debt, a lot of people turn to the equity in their home. Taking out a second, or even third, loan against your home’s equity can give you the cash you need to pay off other debt. But, doing so should only be done after careful consideration. Your home is likely your largest asset, and a second loan will encumber it until paid in full. What this means is that until you repay the home equity loan you have not one, but two liens on your home. This can make resale difficult, as it can be hard to fetch a price that covers the amount of multiple loans.

Some important things to remember when considering a home equity loan include:

  • The interest paid is tax deductible, provided you itemize your deductions. This can result in a huge savings come tax time, and help to lower your tax liability.
  • Failure to repay a home equity loan may result in collection activity, or even foreclosure.
  • While relatively easy to apply for and receive, a home equity loan may come at a variable interest rate. If so, your payment will not remain the same, which can present problems when trying to make a budget.

Aside from the tax benefits, perhaps the largest benefit is the possible savings. Even with a variable rate, the rate for a home equity loan is usually lower than that of most credit cards or signature loans. You can save thousands of dollars in interest by taking the equity in your home and using it to pay off higher rate debt. Then, with the money you save in interest, you can start a savings account or even double up on the equity loan payment.

 

If you have questions about whether a home equity loan is right for you, 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.

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.

How To Identify Where You Can Cut Expenses

Lowering your monthly bills can be difficult. But, if you are successfully able to cut back on expenses, you can end up with a small nest egg after a shorter time period than you think. The trouble is finding those areas where you can exclude something from your budget. Common areas of shaving a few dollars here and there are the morning coffee stop, and expensive lunches outside the office.

Other places you can save money include:

● Leave your car in the garage more often. Walk or bike to work if possible, and if that is not an option, check into the local bus schedule. For people where public transportation isn’t available, consider carpooling with your spouse or a co-worker.

● Check into the rates for a mortgage refinance. In most cases you can skip a month’s payment, and you will also enjoy a lower payment thereafter. The money you save in interest can be used to build your savings, or to make extra payments and decrease the term of your loan.

● Transfer balances from high rate loans to lower rate credit cards or loans.

● Have a garage sale, or check into selling unused items online.

● Call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. If you have been a loyal and paying customer, the company may honor your request.

● Cut back on utility expenses by installing a programmable thermostat, and bumping up your air temp just a few degrees. The smallest change in temperature can mean big savings.

● Shop around for auto and home insurance.

● Cut back on the number of times your family eats out per month, and instead stay home for a family movie night. This reduces your entertainment expenses as well as how much you spend at restaurants.

Just a few changes can make a difference you never imagined. And, after a while the changes become habit and you may soon realize you don’t miss the things you’ve eliminated. For more help with budgeting and finding areas where you can cut back, call a trained legal professional.

If you need help with your finances, call our office. We can offer solutions, legal and practical, that meet your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

Financial Planning Also Includes Planning For A Family Vacation

A common mistake most people make when developing a financial plan is to fail to include expenses for extras. The problem with leaving out the costs of things other than the basic necessities is that regardless of whether you include them in your budget, the expenses still exist. When you fail to figure an amount for your kids’ extracurricular activities, you still end up spending that money, and often times more. Consider the instance of signing up your daughter for dance classes. The expense includes more than just the monthly fee, there are also expense associated with costumes, shoes, and travel to recitals or competitions. This example shows the importance of remembering to include these types of expenses or expenses that include the entire family, like a family vacation, in your financial plan.

Some tips for what to consider when including your family vacation in your finances are:

● Don’t forget the cost of passports, if your plans take you outside the country. If you plan far enough in advance, you can make this cost easier to swallow by paying for one or two passports at a time. Spreading the cost out over a few months will take less of a bite out of your budget.

● Be sure to factor in resort fees, or daily hotel fees. Most resorts and hotels now have these fees, and they are not part of the nightly rate quote.

● If you are purchasing vacation insurance, don’t forget to add that expense to your plan.

Everyone needs a break from their busy work life, and a family vacation is the perfect way to take that break. But, if you fail to account for all of the expenses associated with your trip, you can wind up feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. For questions about finances, including how to prepare for a vacation, call our office.

 

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information. We can help you develop a budget that works, and explain your legal options if your budget has fallen apart.

Why You Should Balance Your Checkbook

If you don’t have a monthly budget, it is crucial to your financial future to get one and follow it! If you do have a monthly budget, one way to help you stick to your plan is to balance your checkbook regularly. Regularly means writing down every purchase you make, either by a debit card tied to your checking account or by an actual written check. The only way to know if you are spending within your budget is to keep track of how much money comes in, and how much money you spend.

Balancing a checkbook can be difficult, especially if you misplace receipts or forget to record purchases. But, after a little practice, you can become proficient at keeping track of your debits and credits and will know exactly how much money you have at any given time. When you know what is in your account, you will know if there is any extra for family activities, or for savings. The following components are required to accurately balance a checkbook:

● Current balance.

● An itemization of your spending.

● Inclusion of any bank charges, like a monthly maintenance fee.

Be sure to include any interest earned when figuring the bottom line. With paperless statements the norm, you may have to resort to an online calculator to balance your checkbook. But, if you do receive a paper statement, most contain a calculation chart to help you get to your balance. Without knowing how much money you have to spend, it is easy to go over what you have in the bank. This can lead to insufficient bank charges, which can quickly spiral out of control. The end result may be that you find yourself being unable to make your monthly payments. Good financial planning starts with a budget, and a balanced checkbook. The benefits are that you avoid financial distress, and may even be able to save for something fun.

 

For assistance with finances, call our office. We will help get you on track, and can offer legal options when you’ve exhausted all other efforts. 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.

 

 

Is A Tax Refund A Sign Of Financial Mismanagement?

Getting a tax refund can really boost your finances, and give you the opportunity to pay off debt or perform home repairs. But, not everyone gets a tax refund, some people end up owing more taxes at the end of year and so miss out on the benefit of having extra cash hit their bank account in the Spring. Then, there is that small group of people who break even, neither receiving a refund nor owing. So, which is best? If you had a choice, and you do, on how much is held out of your paycheck, which method is best for your finances?

Some financial experts say getting a big tax refund isn’t always a good idea. Here’s why:

● A large tax refund means you are having too much held out of your paycheck every two weeks.

● When too much money is held out of your paycheck, that means less money goes in your pocket.

● Allowing a large amount of funds to be withheld, and then repaid to you every year by the IRS, is essentially allowing the IRS to act as your savings account. The only difference is that the IRS is not paying you interest.

Perhaps a better choice is to find an amount that allows you to break even tax-wise, and put the extra money in a sound investment. There is no reason to let the government hold onto your money rather than have your money work for you. Other common money mismanagement practices include failing to make and stick to a budget, spending more for a product than it is worth, and forgetting to save for a rainy day. You should also take advantage of all the free money available to you, like maxing out your retirement plan by getting the full employer contribution possible. Call us for advice on how to take steps to make sure you are doing all you can to manage your money properly.

 

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information about money management techniques. Schedule an appointment to learn more.