November 24, 2017

I Never Want to See You Again….

avoid future debt problemsI enjoy meeting with my clients to discuss solutions to debt problems.  And over the years I have met some really pleasant and interesting people.  That being said, I hope that when your bankruptcy case is over, I will never see you again – at least for another bankruptcy filing.

If you win the lottery and need legal help setting up a charitable foundation or a corporate structure to organize your investments, please call me.   If you know someone who needs to file an injury claim, I can help you there too.  But I really hope that this bankruptcy case will be your last.

Here are several suggestions that will absolutely help you avoid the need to file another bankruptcy:

  • set up online access to your credit accounts – you will be able to schedule payment reminders, fraud alerts and other control reminders.
  • set up automatic payments from your checking account to cover minimum payments – most of the time your minimum payment will be $25 or $35.   When this is paid automatically, you avoid late charges and late payment downgrades to your credit score.
  • pay off your entire balance each month – if you find yourself running a balance, this means that you are spending more than you are earning.  This should be a warning sign.   Stop spending until you get your balance down to zero.  Spending more than you earn will lead you back to…..bankruptcy!
  • never, ever, ever, ever (apologies to Taylor Swift) co-sign a loan for someone else – nothing good ever arises from co-signing for someone else – your brother, your sister, your kid, your mom.  Just say “no.”
  • write out a budget – if you can use a spreadsheet, do so.  When you see your income and expenses in black and white on paper, you will have a much clearer idea where your money goes
  • set aside funds for emergencies – you are going to have to replace tires, your kid will break a tooth, you will need to make an emergency plane trip.   Start setting aside $50, $100, or whatever you can in a savings account.  Try to build up 3 or 4 months equivalent to your monthly take home pay.  Forget that this money exists for any purpose other than a true emergency.
  • start planning for retirement.  Create an IRA account.  Contribute to your company’s 401(k) or pension.  Besides bankruptcy I represent people in Social Security disability claims and I will advise you not to rely on Social Security to pay for your retirement

There is an old saying that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail and this is especially true when it comes to personal finances.  The difference between a comfortable and manageable life and a stressful,  unpleasant life can boil down to $200 or $300 per month.  My hope for all of us as we enter 2014 is to live below our means and to prepare for the unexpected.

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