Written by Canterbury Law Group

Your 2019 Financial Resolutions to Get On Top of Your Debts

Making New Year’s resolutions can be challenging. Where do you start and what should it be about? Some popular resolutions revolve around finances – make more money, pay off the credit card, get out of debt, and another similar turn the corner ideas.

If you are struggling financially and worried about filing for bankruptcy, consider making a New Year’s resolution to help you take control of your debt.

Although when in doubt, there is your top bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale, the lawyers do not always intend to file for bankruptcy for every client. Consider making some of the following financial resolutions to help you get on top of your debt.

Learn More About Finances

Make a New Year’s resolution to improve your financial literacy. The more you understand finances and how money, budgeting, investing, and debt work, the better off you can become.

The internet has tons of blogs that seek to help you take control of your finances. Browse through some that offer information to teach you about finances, rather than provide band-aid solutions to a single problem.

Start a Budget

If you are struggling with debt, you have likely heard the word budget from time to time. That is because a budget is one of the best ways to give you a snapshot of your actual financial situation. A budget shows you how much money you bring in each month and where you are spending it all each month.

To start a budget, write down your total monthly income after taxes. Then, begin to create expense categories. First, write out your fixed expenses (rent or mortgage, insurances, utility bills, and anything else that stays the same or similar each month), then move to your variable expenses (the ones that change month to month like entertainment or dining out). Be specific and honest with your categories.  Keep track of the spending on your phone or on a small notebook in your car.  Every dollar.

Increase Your Monthly Income

Another good resolution to help with debt is to aim at increasing your monthly income. It could be as little as $100 a month or up to $1,000. No matter what the number is though, make sure it’s realistic for you.

There are many side gigs you can do on top of your full-time job. You can get into some freelance work, teach students on the side (for example, guitar or piano lessons), or if you have a hobby in which you create things, you could start selling them.  You can drive for Uber or Lyft a few nights a week, for example.

Set Up a Savings or Emergency Account

Even though if you are in debt and you want to retire it quickly; it’s important that you have an emergency fund. That money is not there for whenever you want it. It’s there for when you absolutely need it.

Ask yourself if you could afford a $500 unexpected expense right now. Would you be okay, or would it push you even farther into debt? Either way, it’s in your best interest to start setting aside small amounts of money each month into an emergency account.

Target a Certain Debt

If you have multiple debts, one of your resolutions could be to target a particular debt. Instead of making the minimum payments on each debt every month, bump up the amount you pay for one debt that has the highest interest rate.

Take the debt with the highest interest rate and make that your primary target first. With the other debt, keep up with the minimum payments. Once you pay off the debt with the largest interest rate, that money can go towards the next debt, and so on. It will turn into a snowball effect until you have everything paid off.  It might take years to get there, but at least you will be on the path to paying everything off and avoiding bankruptcy.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

4 Steps to Take to Avoid Filing for Bankruptcy Again

Going through bankruptcy is a stressful time. Although the stigma around bankruptcy and how we view it is changing, it is still something that many people are ashamed of. For some, going bankrupt was the result of a job loss or medical crisis they could not afford to pay back. But for others, bankruptcy is the result of overspending. No matter the reason though, bankruptcy tends to be the last option for families or businesses.

Sometimes, even after filing for bankruptcy and going through all the qualifications to continue, there may come the point when a second bankruptcy case is looking like the only option. If this is the case, you likely wouldn’t want to go through the process all over again.

There is a lot of bankruptcy help in Scottsdale if you find yourself in that position. However, there are steps you can take before possibly pursuing a second bankruptcy claim that could help get your debt under control.

Speak With Your Creditors

Just as much as you do not want to file for bankruptcy, neither do your creditors. When you claim bankruptcy, the creditors do not get the same amount of money as they would if you were paying the debt. You may be able to use that to your advantage.

Speak with your creditors and anyone else you owe money to. See if they would be willing to negotiate a payment plan or giving you a few extra grace months until you can gather enough money.

Sell Assets

If you are filing for bankruptcy again, it’s because you don’t have enough money. One way to bring in quick cash is by selling assets. The more you can sell, the more cash you can bring in.

Go through your home and see what items you have that you no longer use or need. It could be clothing, jewelry, artifacts, even a car. Make a list of what you could sell and see if it’s something you can live without.

Take a Second Job

If you are really close to filing for bankruptcy, it may be time to look for another job. The more money you can bring in, the quicker you can pay off your debts to avoid bankruptcy. Although taking on another job is not the most popular step to take, it could bring in enough additional income that you could get straightened out with your creditors.

Ask for Help

If you have exhausted all other avenues and are not sure what else to do, it may be time to ask for some help. Many find this embarrassing the first time, and likely more embarrassing the second time. However, if you can negotiate a loan from a friend or family member, it could be exactly what you need to put the idea of bankruptcy out of your head.

In the end, there is no quick solution to avoid bankruptcy. You will need to find ways to increase your income and reduce your expenses to help get you back on your feet. Work with a budget to keep track of your finances, and to help prevent you from falling into this situation again in the future.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

My Workplace is Going Bankrupt – What Do I Do?

When a business goes bankrupt it, it isn’t the management and owner who tends to get hit the hardest. Instead, it is the on the ground workers who are more likely to feel the hit the hardest.

Higher paid employees like management who would know more about the bankruptcy likely have enough money saved up that they can get by. For entry-level employees and those not in management, however, chances are they won’t be as well off.

If you fall into this category and your business is going bankrupt, it can be a scary time. You are likely wondering what will happen to you. Will you still have a job? Are the bills going to pile up and will you have to file for bankruptcy yourself?

We want to provide you with the best bankruptcy help in Scottsdale. So, if your company is going bankrupt, as an employee, here is what you should know.

It depends on the Type of Bankruptcy

There are two types of bankruptcy claims that a business can go through. Depending on which one is being processed, will determine what happens to you as the employee.

If your company is filing for Chapter 11, the business is asking help from the courts to repay creditors and sell off assets. There is a chance you could get laid off as they go through cost-cutting measures. On the other side, the employer may retain all positions, but written employment contracts may be up for renegotiation that could not end well in your favor.

If your company is filing for Chapter 7 though, this is the liquidation of the entire business, meaning the company’s existence comes to an end. Most likely all employees will be out of a job after the end of the liquidation and the bankruptcy concludes.

Unpaid Wages Will Get Paid Out

If you get laid off due to the bankruptcy liquidation, any wages you’ve earned that has not been paid will be treated as a debt owed from the employer. There is a cap for wages, and salary earned up to 180 days before bankruptcy.

You cannot guarantee payment, however. In the Fair Labor Standards Act, unpaid wages are not covered. This means if there are not enough assets to pay for all of the unpaid wages, you may not receive anything at all.

You May Lose Your Pension

Most likely your employee pension plan will get terminated in the event of a liquidation. There was, though, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) put in place to protect private sector workers. So, if your employer cannot pay your benefits, the PBGC will help out to fill the gap in pension assets. 

Vacation Pay

If you have accrued vacation days, they will fall into unpaid wages. This means you are likely to get compensated for them. However, once again, you cannot guarantee that you will receive your payout. The labor laws differ from state to state.

These are a few of the things to look out for if your company is filing for bankruptcy. If handled well, you could still be compensated for any unpaid wages, pensions, benefits, and vacation days after discharge. However, there is always the risk that you will receive nothing if the company cannot come up with enough money to pay their debts and your owed wages.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

5 Logical Ways to Grow Your Money

Saving and growing your money is, oftentimes, easier than you think. There are a number of rudimentary saving habits that you can start today that could positively impact your money. Top bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale recommends adhering to the following five tips in order to double your money this year.

Automation

It’s important to automate your financial life. This means transferring your funds directly from your checking account to an interest-bearing savings account. Think about it: when you automate your financial life (putting money into a retirement or savings account), you won’t feel inclined to cut back on savings.

Track Expenses

It’s absolutely critical to have an in-depth understanding of where your money is going. You must look closely at your spending habits in order to figure out where you can cut back.

Monitor

Another important component to growing your money is making sure you monitor and measure your progress. Consider evaluating your net worth on a daily basis; you will find this both motivating and rewarding.

Alter Your Mindset

It’s never too late to start saving. Thus, you need to commit to saving money right here, right now.

Invest

The only way to build significant wealth is to have your money go to work for you through investments. Rather than having your money idle in a savings account (which is still good), throw those funds right into the market. Ultimately, the compound interest you earn will provide great returns.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

3 Reasonable Alternatives to Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy is a relatively extreme measure. Having said that, when used in the right way and at the right time, it can actually save you money, sustain your peace of mind, and get you back in a good place financially.  It can literally set you free.

Nonetheless, declaring bankruptcy can also be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, it can have an enormous impact on your credit score. As a result, this can have far-ranging effects on other aspects of your life, such as applying for an auto or home loan and even applying for jobs. You may be surprised to learn that waiting to declare bankruptcy until you are broke can actually do more harm than good.  If you’re on the path to financial ruin, you likely should consider bankruptcy sooner, not later.  You will end up with more in the end.

Because declaring for bankruptcy has long-lasting effects, bankruptcy lawyers in Scottsdale recommend the following alternatives to help you navigate through your financial situation.

Pay Bills Another Way

Working a second or third job is never a good time, nor is it a great way to spend your evenings and weekends. If it’s just for a short period of time, however, the extra income could put a real dent in your debt. What could be better? Although it may be difficult, consider working another job or two in order to make extra cash, if you can climb out of your debt hole within 12 to 24 months, this non-bankruptcy approach may make sense.

Follow a Budget

You’d be surprised to learn that many people don’t follow a budget and, as a result, don’t have a strong grasp on where their money goes (other than to pay bills, of course). In the absence of a written budget, it’s very difficult to see where or how you can make changes in your life that will free up your money.

For many people, the largest portions of our income go towards housing and transportation costs. For example, if you rent, downsizing your home and moving to a smaller place or searching for a roommate could largely impact your rent cost (it could also save you money on utilities as well). If your car is a gas guzzler, for example, selling and buying a small, fuel-efficient car could save you a lot of money that can be put towards debt payments.

Negotiate With Your Lenders

Fortunately, many lenders will lower interest rates or even consider adjusting your payment plan if you tell them you’re going to file for bankruptcy. This is particularly true of credit card companies, which stand to lose the most. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your lenders in order to alleviate part of your situation. Or hire your bankruptcy counsel to conduct these negotiations for you.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

10 Well-Known Causes of Bankruptcy

While there are a variety of reasons as to why people end up filing for bankruptcy, there are certainly some leading causes. Based on recent studies, bankruptcy lawyers in Scottsdale break down the top 10 leading reasons. As you’ll see, the percentages represent the proportionate weight as to why an individual ultimately files for bankruptcy. Let’s take a look at them.

Medical Expenses (42%)

According to research, 42% of all personal bankruptcies are a result of complicated medical expenses. Interestingly enough, the studies also show us that 78% of those who filed had health insurance.

Job Loss (22%)

There are millions upon millions of Americans that are unemployed. As a result, this makes them much more likely to file for bankruptcy. Those who are unemployed often pay for health insurance out-of-pocket.

Unmonitored Spending (15%)

Bankruptcy can often come as a result of credit card bills, hefty mortgages, and expensive car payments. Uncontrolled spending habits can put Americans on the unfortunate path to filing.

Divorce (8%)

Legal fees, child support, and alimony can result in heightened financial stress. Unfortunately, nearly one out of every two marriages fail in America.

Unexpected Disaster (7%)

Unanticipated disasters such as earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes can be very hard to prepare for. Without insurance, this can possibly result in bankruptcy.

Avoiding Foreclosure (1.5%)

Someone can spend nearly a lifetime preparing to buy a home. In order to avoid foreclosure, some Americans will file for bankruptcy to reorganize debt in an effort to save their homes.

Poor Financial Planning (1.5%)

In the absence of a logical financial plan, bankruptcy can always occur. You should always build up your cash savings for out of the blue expenses that could lead to debt.

Preventing Loss of Utilities (1%)

With a foreclosure, you also run the risk of losing utilities. Keeping your lights and heat on too often can have severe financial consequences.

Student Loans (1%)

Fortunately, it may be possible to consolidate student loans with a bankruptcy.  Speak to your bankruptcy lawyer about your options, if any.

Preventing Repossession (1%)

If a creditor repossessed your car, bankruptcy may put you in a position to have your vehicle returned, in addition to any other personal property that may have been repossessed.

In order to avoid bankruptcy, consider steering clear of the aforementioned leading causes. Reading often and talking to people in order to education yourself will help you in the long run. Doing a few things right and maintaining those habits will put you a great place financially and will help you see through your monetary goals.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

When to File For Bankruptcy

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, timing is everything. While everybody’s situation is different, divorce lawyers in Scottsdale suggest paying attention to the following four signs, which may mean that it’s the right time to file for bankruptcy.

Behind on Bills

Sure, life is certainly unpredictable and, generally speaking, you may not be prepared for a financial crisis. If you are in a tough position and know you won’t be able to pay your bills on time each month, (or have already fallen behind), filing for bankruptcy can really help you get back to where you need to be. For example, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is deemed a liquidation bankruptcy that is structured to immediately eliminate your debts. Throughout this process, your Trustee will sell your property and use the funds to compensate your creditors. Unless otherwise
specified by you, your automobile can also be included in the sale of your property.

You’re in Debt Through a Collection Agency

If you have debt that’s been building up, there is a chance you may end up being sued if you continue to ignore debt collectors. Filing for bankruptcy can really help if you think you may end up in this position. Filing for bankruptcy puts what’s known as an “automatic stay” against debt collectors and can put an end to any additional collection actions.

Your Wages Are Garnished

In order to pay down a debt, creditors often take extra action to ensure the amount owed is legitimately paid. In doing so, collection agencies obtain a court order to garnish your wages. As soon as this happens, your employer is bound by law to hold back a specified amount from each paycheck, which ultimately goes towards paying down the debt that you owe. Similar to being sued, the automatic stay after filing for bankruptcy can block a company from further garnishing your wages.

You Might Lose Your House or Car

Let’s say you’re behind on payments for your house or car. Bankruptcy might be an effective way to stop repossession or even foreclosure (even if it’s temporarily). Furthermore, this will give you enough time to catch up on payments. Nonetheless, you’ll always want to speak with your lender regarding various options before you take an initial step.

A great deal of thought should go into the decision to file for bankruptcy. As always, you should seek advice from an attorney if this is something you are considering. The sooner you consult a lawyer, the better, do not wait until the last minute when all of your money is gone and your debts are at their peak levels.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Do I Become Ineligible for a Home Loan After Filing for Bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy could affect your life in both positive and negative ways. The main negative in declaring bankruptcy is that the debtor’s credit score will take a major hit. While it’s very much possible to restore a bad credit score, many consumers do wonder what it means for immediate financial assistance requirements. For example, if you don’t own a home and have filed for bankruptcy, does that mean you are ineligible for a mortgage now and for how long?

The question is not easy to answer. Personal circumstances and specific situations can matter. It’s best to first get advice from a qualified bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale. However, consumers can also get a general idea of obtaining a home loan following bankruptcy by reading this article.

Qualifying for a Home Loan Following Bankruptcy

There are no legal barriers to qualifying for a home loan following a bankruptcy declaration. A lender cannot deny you a mortgage based solely on the fact that you have filed for bankruptcy once. Lenders will use other underwriting factors to determine your eligibility.

A consumer’s ability to get a home loan following bankruptcy is determined largely by the credit score, monthly income, down payment levels and the remaining savings. Keep in mind that mortgage lenders require a down payment on the loan. If you have no trouble paying for the down payment, then you can quite often also qualify for the loan. If not, you should at least be able to pay 20 percent of the down payment right away. The higher the down-payment one can offer a lender, the higher the chance that your mortgage loan will close and fund on the date of purchase.

How Bankruptcy Affects Credit Scores and Eligibility for Home Loans

You should expect your credit to plummet by at least 120 points if you file for bankruptcy. All of the credit monitoring companies scan the bankruptcy dockets every day to watch consumers.  After you are discharged from your bankruptcy case, you will need to soon start rebuilding credit to prevent going into the negatives. If you start repaying remaining debts that survived your bankruptcy, your credit score will rise without a problem. Rehabilitating credit in this manner is the best option you have for being qualified for a subsequent home loan. Even if your credit score is low, if you can show the lenders that it has been improving, then your mortgage application may receive more favorable treatment during the loan application process.

How to Improve Your Chances of Obtaining a Home Loan Following Bankruptcy

First of all, you should take steps to get your credit score back up. If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, sticking to the monthly court-approved payment plan should do it. Otherwise, you can get a credit card and make timely payments without missing a single payment due.  Pay on time, each and every month.

Start saving. You should certainly expect to spend some time-saving money before you can apply for a mortgage. Let your savings accumulate so you have enough to at least partially cover a down payment. The more savings you have, the better your application will look.   You can get friends or family to help you accumulate down payment funds as well, so long as they are willing to sign off and release those funds to you in writing.

Don’t forget to repay existing loans such as student loans, taxes owned, or child support. Always continue to timely pay your regular bills on time as well.

What matters is that you maintain a good financial profile by not falling back into the previous circumstances that caused you to file for bankruptcy.  Time is your friend.  After a bankruptcy, the longer you have come through and demonstrated a strong credit history and ability to pay—the mortgage lenders will start to consider you again for home mortgage loan qualifications.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

When Should You File for Bankruptcy?

Of course, filing for bankruptcy is not easy on anyone. The filing process can go smoothly if you have a good lawyer. What’s really difficult is deciding when to file for bankruptcy. Does your financial situation actually call for you to throw in the towel? This article will help you understand which situations call for declaring personal bankruptcy:

Do a Self-Assessment of Your Situation

No one knows your financial situation better than you. So, when deciding to file for bankruptcy, you should do a self-assessment of your financial situation. Even if you feel like your debts are unbearable, you may not necessarily be in the danger zone that calls for declaring bankruptcy. There are several indicators that you are in serious financial trouble. Here is a short list:

  • You get constant debt collection calls
  • You are unable to, and have not recently made, minimum payments on credit cards
  • You don’t know the size of your debt
  • Your family home is at risk of foreclosure due to a debt
  • You have to borrow money to pay for necessities
  • You get a lot of red notices in the mail
  • Your creditors are threatening legal action

If you answer yes to three or more questions above, then you are seriously in debt. If you are unable to pay for everyday necessities without using credit cards or borrowing money in another manner, then you are definitely in the financial danger zone. You could consider bankruptcy as a possible solution.

Consider Alternative Routes

Filing for bankruptcy will lower your credit score significantly. Therefore, it’s not something that should be done frivolously. First, consider if there are alternatives to bankruptcy you can consider. Try calling your creditors and renegotiating the terms of your loans. Most creditors prefer if debtors don’t go bankrupt as a judge could erase the unsecured debt. It’s very likely that the creditor will be able to come into new favorable terms with you.  You can also consider selling stuff around the house to find funds to repay loans. It’s possible that you are spending money unnecessarily, so a household budget adjustment may solve your problems. Exhaust your alternatives first, and then decide to file for bankruptcy.

Consult with an Attorney

If you are really not sure about doing either of the above, you can always consult with an attorney for professional advice. Find a local bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale or other cities in the state. Most will be willing to hold a consultation for a lowered fee. The state of Arizona does pose limits on how much a bankruptcy attorney can charge so money may not be an issue.

Know What Types of Debt You Owe

Are your debts mostly because of secured loans, unsecured loans, unpaid taxes, or fees due like alimony? Some debts, like taxes and child support, cannot be wiped out by filing for bankruptcy. If you owe a lot of unsecured debt, like credit card debt, then filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good option.

It all depends on the type of debt you owe, and your income level. Before you file for bankruptcy, make sure you are eligible for it. You may also want to ask your attorney whether a certain type of debt can actually be forgiven by a bankruptcy court.