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

Moving Forward After Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is not something families want to do. Unfortunately, though, it is something many American’s have to do.

Filing for bankruptcy is not the end of the world. In reality, it is actually the opposite for many people. It can be looked at as a fresh start with finances, and a way to plan your path to financial freedom. However, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. After filing for bankruptcy, it takes a lot of time and dedication to continue moving forward. Bankruptcy is not a quick fix and is a decision that must be taken seriously.

For some, when the possibility of bankruptcy is an option, the question of how to move forward afterward will come up. With our bankruptcy help in Scottsdale, and along with some of the following tips, we will help you move on with your life after claiming bankruptcy.

Keep Paying Any Reaffirmed Debts

Some debts can survive bankruptcy, which means you will still have to pay them down. There are loans which are entitled to the value of the collateral. This means you will still be required to make the payments agreed upon in the original loan documents.

It would help if you didn’t look at these reaffirmed debts at as something negative. As long as you continue to make your payments on time, the reaffirmed debts can help you rebuild your future credit score.

Use a Secured Credit Card

Continuing with life without a credit card can be challenging. Many companies require a credit card before making a reservation, renting something, or even trying to purchase an item.

Using a credit card is what also helps build and improve your credit rating. A good credit score will allow you to apply for loans and mortgages, whereas a negative credit score is likely to get you denied. However, if you have a poor credit score or went through the bankruptcy process, it could be difficult to obtain one.

A secured credit card is something you should consider using after going through bankruptcy. These credit cards a basically pre-paid cards. You must deposit money into the card account before making any purchases with the card. The money is used as collateral; therefore you can only spend up to what you deposited. You can, though, deposit more to increase your credit, or even be rewarded an increased credit line from the bank.

Avoid Building Debt

One of the best things to do after applying for bankruptcy is avoiding what got you there in the first place. Try not to accumulate any new debt. Keep paying all of your bills on time. Create a budget to help you keep your spending in check, as to not spend more than what you’re earning. The more you can do to keep your cash flow higher than your expenses, the better chance you have of avoiding any more debt.

Don’t let bankruptcy be the end of your finances and your life. Although it will require work on your part, you should think of it as a fresh start to help you get your finances under control. By committing to it, you’ll be able to repair your credit score, pay off all of your loans, and work your way towards financial freedom.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Keep Your Credit – Avoid Bankruptcy

Debt is scary. When you open up your account and see that you owe more money than you can spare, it can quickly become overwhelming. Sometimes, the stress leads one to believe that the only remaining option is to file for bankruptcy.

Although bankruptcy doesn’t have to be the end of the world, it is best to leave it as a last resort option. If you can no longer pay any of your debt and have done all that you can to try and get afloat, bankruptcy may be your only option and ironically, the best option.

Before you make your decision, see if there are any other things you can do before calling for bankruptcy help in Scottsdale.

Sell, Sell, and Sell Some More

When the word bankruptcy comes to mind when you look at your finances, that is when you know you need to take immediate legal action. See what you have that you can afford to live without and sell it. The more quick cash you can bring it, the more debt you can pay off and avoid filing for bankruptcy.  But do not do anything until you seek counseled advice from licensed bankruptcy lawyers.

Bring in More Money

See if there are ways that you can bring in more money each month. That additional income could go straight to your debt to pay it off quicker. There are many side-gig jobs available that will pay a decent wage. Whether it be a skill you have that you can teach to children, or are crafty and can sell items, there are lots of little things you can do for extra cash.

Crack Down on Your Spending

If you still have a bit of time before you have no choice but to file for bankruptcy, sit down and go through your spending habits. See where you can make cuts and by how much. Set up a budget based on your monthly income, and try to get as much money going into your debt as possible.  But do not do any of this until speaking to a licensed bankruptcy lawyer who can and will help you map it all out in advance—do not guess on the right steps, let your lawyer show you the actual steps to make as you go.  This feels better, a lot better, as you go.

Ask for Help

There is no shame in bankruptcy.  The President of the United States has done it. It is so easy to get ourselves into debt, and so hard to get out of it. Maybe all you need is a small loan from a family member to get your payments back on schedule. Asking for help from family, friends, and professional financial people can help keep you on track to avoid bankruptcy.  Your lawyers too will show a way out.

If you’ve done all you can and bankruptcy is your only hope, do not fret. Bankruptcy does not mean the end. Although it will affect your credit score, you can then get yourself back on your feet and start over.  Your bankruptcy attorneys will show you through the tunnel to the next and hopeful life phase beyond discharge.

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

Five Must-Know Money-Saving and Success Tips

As you know, people rarely find success by accident. It’s important to set yourself up for financial gains by adhering to some of the best advice out there. Let’s take a look at five indispensable money-saving and success tips for your personal benefit.

Be Passionate

For most individuals, finding exactly what they love and monetizing it is one of life’s biggest challenges. Those tips are exactly what tycoon Warren Buffet says drove him to success in investing and finding great deals. Ultimately, being successful in almost anything means having a passion for it. If you see someone with even fair intelligence and a burning passion for what they do, they will almost undoubtedly find success.

Write Everything Down

Some of the most successful people make lists of all kinds. These can vary from lists of people to call, ideas, and/or companies to set up. Furthermore, you can create lists of topics to blog about, tweets to send, and even about upcoming plans. It’s important to write down every single idea you have, no matter how big or small, and then to challenge yourself to follow through. In doing so, you’ll be able to set financial priorities and reach your goals.

It’s Not All Luck

It’s easy to chalk up your success to being in the right place at the right time, but at the end of the day, no legitimate achievement can come without hard work. At times, success can be a lousy teacher; it seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. Don’t ever stop hustling or learning. As logic tells us, past success doesn’t ensure future success. Even the smartest and most talented people can lose.

Be Disciplined

The first step to getting rich requires a tremendous amount of discipline. Bankruptcy lawyers in Scottsdale note that if you really want to be rich, you need to find that discipline. If you’re looking to make money, you always need cash available. You aren’t saving for retirement. You are saving for the moment you need cash. Buy and hold is a relic. Ultimately, the first step to becoming rich is being a smart shopper and following through on that.

Find Online Resources

It is wise to check for discounts before you make a purchase. Websites like couponcabin.com and apps like Pic2Shop can help save you a lot of money. Furthermore, don’t forget to always check sites that give you cash back for your purchases, like ebates.com.

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

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

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions in Arizona

The Bankruptcy Code is governed by federal law, which means that many aspects of bankruptcy such as the “automatic stay” apply similarly regardless of the state the petitioner lives and files in. However, it’s important to know that Arizona has legally opted out of many federal bankruptcy exemptions under the code. So people who file for bankruptcy in the state can obtain exemptions only according to state laws. This particularly pertains to property exemptions. State bankruptcy exemptions work similarly for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the state. If you are filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, read below to find out which exemptions you may qualify for in the state:

Residential Property and Homestead Assets

Arizona’s homestead exemption allows debtors to exempt up to $150,000 equity value from any real property considered a home. Other real property may also qualify if it falls within Arizona’s homestead laws. The exemption is the same for single as well as married couples. You will have to contact a lawyer regarding which of your real properties can be exempted under the homestead exemption clause in the state.

Certain Types of Personal Property

The courts allow debtors to get exemptions for various items that can be considered “personal property.” Your personal property includes items you own like clothes, computers, guns, furniture, books, pet animals, musical instruments, health aids, and wrongful death awards among others. The state allocates a specific amount of each personal property as exemptions. For example, Chapter 7 petitioners can exempt up to $2,000 for a wedding ring. You should refer to Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 33–1123, 33–1125 and 33–1127 for more information, or ask an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.

Deposits

A debtor filing for bankruptcy can exempt up to $300 from deposits in one bank account. If you have multiple bank accounts, contact a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale to find out how you can obtain exemptions.

Motor Vehicles

Arizona has very specific exemptions for motor vehicles for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The courts allow debtors to exempt up to $6,000 equity for each vehicle owned. Elderly petitioners or their elderly or disabled spouses can exempt up to $12,000.  Again, consultation with your legal counsel is essential.

Retirement Benefits and Pension Funds

Under federal rules, qualified retirement plans such as 401ks and IRAs, which have tax-exempt status, are also exempt in bankruptcy proceedings. Arizona upholds this rule. In addition, debtors who benefit from any type of state employee pension plan can obtain exemptions. Amounts will vary depending on the type of plan you have.  So let’s say you have $200,000 in retirement assets, you can still file and procure a bankruptcy discharge and still own your $200,000 in retirement accounts post-discharge.

Life Insurance Benefits

Up to $20,000 in life insurance that could be paid to a child or a living spouse can be exempted when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Cash surrender value will be considered for exemptions. Similar exemptions can be obtained for insurance plans that cover ill health, accidents or disability. Insurance claims for damages or destruction to property that is exempt will also be exempted from proceedings. There are many insurance exemptions, but there are also exceptions. It’s important to ask a highly qualified lawyer whether your insurance benefits can be exempted under Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.

Child Support

Arizona exempts all child support or alimony payments from discharge when filing for bankruptcy. So filing for bankruptcy is not a valid reason to not pay court ordered alimony or child support.  You are your estate (after you die) will owe child support and alimony for life—and even then, your estate will be compelled to pay.

Fraternal Benefit Society Benefits

If you claim benefits from the Fraternal Benefit Society, they will all be exempted under Arizona law. To find out more about exemptions you can get when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer or call Canterbury Law Group at 480-240-0040.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips to Avoid Losing Money in the New Year

The Scottsdale lawyers at Canterbury Law Group are authorities in bankruptcy matters. As we enter the New Year, we realize that many Scottsdale residents are trying to improve their financial affairs. Unfortunately, the world is full of opportunities for you to give up your hard-earned money unwisely. Becoming an informed consumer is a big step toward avoiding these minefields—and developing the financial power that will keep you out of debt troubles.

Here are some tips for today on how to avoid money traps.

Avoid the “Free” Trial Offer – Ever wonder why businesses are willing to offer that free trial? Sure, it may build customer loyalty and maybe you’ll happily become a repeat buyer. But companies know that many of us will never read the fine print and the vendors typically make no attempt to remind us when the free period is over. Instead your “free” subscription or service converts to a paid one. You are left with an unwanted monthly expense and now they have a steady revenue stream. It is often challenging, if not impossible, to terminate these subscriptions.

Skip upgrades and add-ons – Upgrades at fast food, electronics, retailers and car dealerships make for huge profits so companies really push them. To avoid this trap, do your homework. Know ahead of time what you really want. For example, quiz your insurance agent about how much your own insurance covers you in a rental car. If you later decide an extended warranty or other add-on is appropriate, fine. If not, just say NO. And stick to it.

Don’t co-sign for others – Remember, your best friend or family member can lose their job, and when they do that car will be repossessed and the bank will be coming after you—for the entire unpaid balance.

Filing bankruptcy can seem overwhelming. However, at Canterbury Law Group, we will represent you through the entire process and fight diligently to secure your fresh financial start. Call us today to schedule your consultation. We can put you on the path to reach financial success!

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Important Factors on Bankruptcy Help in Scottsdale

If your financial struggles are becoming overwhelming and the future looks bleak, there are a few things you need to know before filing for bankruptcy.

1. There is No Shame in Filing – If you are considering bankruptcy but your feelings about what type of person you would be to file are stopping you, it’s time to get over it! These days, people from all walks of life file for bankruptcy. You should feel no shame in wanting to solve your financial struggles and get your life back in order. The stigma is in avoiding the problems, hiding from creditors, and not facing the facts – it’s time to fix your finances and turn a new corner.

2. You May Be Able to Keep Your Home – Arizona has well known homestead exemptions that allow you to keep your primary residence. Being forced out of your home is not a reason to avoid filing bankruptcy. The likelihood of losing your home is much greater if you do not file. A Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney can help you make bankruptcy choices that in most cases may permit you to maintain ownership of your home even after your bankruptcy concludes. And in this day and age when so many homeowners are underwater on their mortgage, the likelihood of your home not being included in your bankruptcy is even greater.

3. Bankruptcy is an Investment – If you feel as if you are sinking financially, now is the time to contact a Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney. He or she can help you assess your current situation and get a handle on where you are headed. This will give you some time to save up the money you need to file for bankruptcy before it is too late.

Canterbury Law Group is uniquely qualified to represent clients in the most sophisticated personal and business bankruptcy cases. The range of services we provide depends on an individual’s or a company’s unique situation. Call us today to schedule a consultation. 480-240-0400 or [email protected]

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