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How To Avoid Bankruptcy

Many people are searching for tips to get out of debt and to avoid bankruptcy.  With the economy in the state that it is in I wanted to provide some help to those that are trying to avoid bankruptcy.

 

 

Tips to Avoid Bankruptcy 

Bankruptcy is a federal court process that helps individuals and businesses repay their debts under the protection of the bankruptcy court (Chapter 13 Bankruptcy) or wipe their debts out altogether (Chapter 7 Bankruptcy). When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect which prohibits your creditors from taking action to collect the debt without the approval of the court.

Facing the most difficult economic conditions in decades, many Americans are sobering up to the fact that they're deeply in debt.

For many American households, extraneous spending and poor money management combined with an unforeseen event, such as a job layoff, a health crisis, divorce or a death in the family, has resulted in the perfect cocktail for financial disaster. In fact, a recent survey by FindLaw.com, the world’s leading online source for free legal information, 10 percent of Americans have considered filing for personal bankruptcy at some point in their lives.

There are several danger signs that you’re headed for financial trouble. One of the most worrisome is living paycheck to paycheck. If you are, you’re not alone. According to a 2008 survey by the American Payroll Association, 71 percent of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.  Other danger signs include:

* Making only minimum monthly payments on your credit cards

* Using a series of consolidation loans or home equity loans to pay overdue bills

* Taking out cash advances to pay other bills

* Incurring a growing number of late fees due to late bill payments

To help you get out of debt and avoid bankruptcy, here are eight tips from FindLaw.com:

Get Help Now. You'll need willpower and a lot of support from those around you to get out of debt. For many people, having someone who can hold you accountable, as well as someone with whom you can celebrate the little victories, is essential to reaching your goal of becoming debt free. For expert help, seek the assistance of a debt management or credit counselor, which are available through many social service agencies. Try visiting the United Way at www.liveunited.org or call (888) 995-HOPE for a toll-free foreclosure prevention hotline sponsored by NeighborWorks America and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. If you’re facing foreclosure or are wondering about declaring bankruptcy, immediately seek the counsel of an attorney specializing in debt management and bankruptcy.

Pick Up the Phone.  Don’t wait for your creditors to call you. Call them to negotiate a new payment plan that you can realistically handle. Some creditors might be willing to settle their claim with you for a smaller cash payment, or they might be willing to stretch out the term of the loan and reduce the size of the payment.

Budget Time -- Back to Basics.  Food, clothing, shelter and transportation -- focus on these basics when you start to determine which expenses are essential and which are not. Start a monthly budget by tracking your expenses against take-home pay (cash flow). Cut the non-essentials and look at how you can reduce the costs of your essential expenses. For example, stop dining out and instead take your lunches to work and make meals at home, or reduce your transportation costs by taking public transportation instead of driving to work. Likewise, start to look for opportunities to increase your income, from taking on a second job to selling household items on eBay or Craigslist.

Pay Essential Debts First.  Paying all of your debt down is important, but there are some bills that are more important the others. Go back to the basics -- mortgage, electricity, heat, water, etc. This may sound obvious, but when pressured by bill collectors, many people forget the obvious.

Don't Skip These Expenses.  Depending upon the laws in your state, there may be some expenses that you must incur, such as auto and medical insurance, student loan payments, child support payments, license fees, and of course, paying local taxes as well as state and federal income taxes. Skip any of these expenses and you may wind up with a much bigger headache.

Go Automatic. Have your employer automatically deposit your paycheck into your bank account. But don't stop there. Arrange for the most essential bill payments -- mortgage, electricity, heat and water -- to be automatically withdrawn from your checking account. If you have a mortgage, escrow property taxes to ensure that they’re automatically paid.

Cut the Lattes and Lottery Tickets.  Now is the time to cut back on all of those little non-essentials that eat up your budget -- the lattes at your favorite coffee shop, buying lottery tickets or purchasing that mid-afternoon candy bar or soda from the company vending machine.

Beware of Credit Scams.   Beware of ads and phone calls from debt management companies that tend to target consumers with poor credit histories, promising (for a fee) to clean up your credit so you can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance or even a job. The telltale sign that it’s a scam is if the company demands payment up front for their services.

For more information about getting out of debt and avoiding bankruptcy, visit www.findlaw.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent
 

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