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My New Girl is Really Different

September 30, 2017

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I have been dating this girl for a couple of months, but now it is getting more serious and I have began to realize how different the two of us are. She is not quite a vegetarian, but there is not any red meat to be found near her. In fact she is all about organic food and she grows a lot of the stuff that she eats in her garden and in a small greenhouse. She even uses this handmade natural soap bar that she gets off of the internet. I do not mind any of it, but I am not thinking that I am going to let her change me too much either.Read More »

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June 12, 2017

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What Can Bankruptcy Do For You?

December 6, 2016

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Most people never imagine they’ll need the relief of filing bankruptcy, but sometimes debt builds up unexpectedly. A job loss or medical bill may lead to increased credit card debt, and you may only be able to make minimum payments. Other bills rack up, and before you know it, you’re in over your head. There are many benefits to filing bankruptcy, but it’s also important to weigh the consequences of filing before moving forward.

First Steps

Most people know that bankruptcy can discharge many of their debts, but you’ll need to make some important decisions to get to that point. First, we’ll conduct the Means Test to help us decide which chapter of bankruptcy is best for you. If you pass the Means Test, you’re eligible to file a Chapter 7, which discharges most unsecured debts, including medical bills, credit cards, utility bills, and back rent. If your income is too high or you have assets and property you need to protect, a Chapter 13 is a beneficial option. We’ll propose a repayment plan to the court that will last 3-5 years, and during this time you’ll make reduced payments based on your income. At the end of your repayment period, most remaining unsecured debts are discharged, greatly reducing the total you’ll pay on debts.

When you have debt you can’t pay, you’ll undoubtedly get calls and letters from creditors, which can be extremely stressful. One of the benefits of filing any chapter of bankruptcy is that the automatic stay will go into effect, which means your creditors must stop calling you as soon as you tell them you’ve filed. This gives you some time to focus and get your finances in order.

Things to Consider

While all the positive things about bankruptcy are great, this legal decision is not without consequences. Your credit score will decrease, which can make it more difficult to get credit in the future or even to rent a home. Also, not all debts can be included in bankruptcy. You’ll still be responsible for child support and alimony payments, although you may be able to have the payments modified based on your new situation. Student loans may only be included in bankruptcy under very strict guidelines, but you may be able to work with your lender to find a repayment plan that is a better fit for you. Back taxes also are generally not included in bankruptcy.

If you want to keep your property, such as your car or home, you’ll need to stay up to date on these payments; if you fall behind, your creditor will pursue repossession or foreclosure. It may be to your benefit to give up these items if the payments no longer fit your situation, or you may be able to make these payments more reasonable by discharging other debts through bankruptcy.

Thinking about the benefits of bankruptcy can give you hope for your future, and I can help you make a solid plan to discharge debt while preserving as much of your property as possible. If you aren’t sure how to move forward, please call or email me so we can talk.

How to Prepare for Your Bankruptcy Filing

December 6, 2016

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There is a deep despair that creeps into a person’s life when they can’t meet their financial obligations. Don’t let the feelings of failure, anger, or hopelessness take hold of you. Oftentimes, unexpected twists and turns in life happen. Events that you simply couldn’t have planned for may be unaffordable, even if you had an emergency fund, especially if the emergencies all happen all at once.

When you come to the realization that you simply cannot keep up, there is hope. Bankruptcy offers relief for people just like you. Bankruptcy Attorneys can walk you through the process and make sure you don’t have to endure any more stress than needed.

First Steps

You may know what course of action to take, but taking the first step is the hardest part. Every person has a unique situation, so meeting with a Bankruptcy Attorney can help you work through the process. They will conduct the means test, and that will help you know which chapter of bankruptcy to file. From that point, you can make a plan and talk through all the steps so that you will be comfortable with the process.

You will need to complete some worksheets and gather your documentation, such as tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, current bills, and loan paperwork, all going back six months. You’ll also need to show what your current expenses and debts are, as well and what income and assets you have. The court trustee will need to see these documents to get an idea of why you need the relief of bankruptcy.

Another task you’ll need to complete is an online credit counseling course.This is a required course that is easy, affordable, and will hopefully be a good educational tool to help you rebuild your finances.

When you have finished gathering your documentation and have a course completion certificate, you will be ready to file. When you file, you’ll receive your case number and your automatic stay goes into effect. The automatic stay allows you to give your creditors your case number and my information, and they will no longer call you. The relief of filing for bankruptcy will have started, and now you can focus on rebuilding your life and future.

In the Home Stretch

Bankruptcy does take some time, and although it won’t be finished at this point, most of the work will be done. Just a few more simple steps and you will be able to relax as your Chapter 7 discharges all your debt or your Chapter 13 repayment plan will be structured with affordable payments. No one can stand under the weight of debt forever. When you simply run out of resources and the ability to pay, a Bankruptcy Attorney can take that weight off your shoulders and provide relief for you.

 

Lessons Learned From Bankruptcy

December 6, 2016

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Even if you know that bankruptcy is the right choice, it can be discouraging to think about the long-term consequences you’ll need to face after your case is resolved. Most people look back on their bankruptcy as something they never want to do again, but a situation they learned from. After dealing with your debt in this way, you’ll no doubt gain wisdom that will help you in the future or even help your loved ones avoid the struggles you’ve gone through.

Budgeting

Budgeting will be a part of your bankruptcy case and will become second nature after your debts are taken care of. A Bankruptcy Attorney can help as they discuss your case they can see how to best help your situation, you’ll leave with a comprehensive list of tasks and documents to complete. The next step before filing your case, you’ll need to take an online Credit Counseling Course. This class will not only help you decide if bankruptcy is the right choice for you, but a large focus of this class is also on budgeting. A second, post-filing class is also required, which will help you fine tune your budget further.

One of the most important things you can do to stick to your budget and plan for your financial future is to be aware of where your money is going. It’s up to you to not only create your budget, but to use the discipline required to stick to your budget. It’s OK to make changes as your priorities change, as long as you keep in mind that you only have so much money to work with. This might mean sacrificing in one area to save up for something you really want in another.

Saving

When you first file bankruptcy, you won’t have access to credit for a while, which can be a challenge. That’s why it’s so important to focus on building up your savings account. This way, you’ll have some money set aside for emergencies, rather than inadvertently getting into debt again. If you end up in a situation where you owe on a medical bill, for example, work with the creditor to establish a payment plan, rather than relying on credit cards.

Once you have some money in place to take care of emergencies, you can take charge of your finances further by saving up for important purchases or expenses. You’ll have the freedom to dream and plan without the worries of debt, even if the dreams need to be delayed a bit. With a goal in mind, it may be easier to say no to small impulse purchases.

Future Planning

Being in debt can reduce your freedom to live the life you really want to. Instead of deciding where your money goes and how it’s spent, you’re tied to debt payments. Bankruptcy can put an end to this stress and give you a new start. The lessons of rebuilding your credit and living on a budget will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Patience Is A Financial Virtue

December 6, 2016

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Modern society is characterised by fast-paced technology which allows us to enjoy Google searches, Twitter updates and ready-to-eat meals. Today, it seems that patience has become passé; who wants to wait for anything in this age of instant gratification?

Patience, one of the seven heavenly virtues, is the ability to accept delays in the desired timing of an event, or the capacity to endure problems without anxiety. Patience really requires you to take a passive approach while you allow nature or destiny to take its course.

When it comes to money, it could be argued that patience indicates weakness, as we should be fiercely ambitious in going after our financial goals. However, patience is an important trait to have if you want to succeed with money; without it you may be actually be sabotaging your dreams.

Immediate not always ideal

Persuasive advertisers often encourage you to buy their products with a sense of urgency, as they insist that you can’t afford to miss out on the latest fashions or their amazing sales. When you’re spending your money, sometimes you may feel under pressure to act quickly to get the best deal.

Most times, applying a little patience when spending will not let you miss out on must-have items or a once-in-a-lifetime shopping event. In fact, taking your time and thinking twice before you hand over your money can help you to avoid making impulsive purchases that you may regret in the future.

Before you commit to any purchase, ask yourself if it is the best use for your hard-earned dollars. Are there more important purposes to which your funds could be allocated? If you postpone your purchase until the following day, you may actually be relieved that you didn’t give into the desire to spend.

Defer getting into debt

Lending companies also promote the idea that you don’t need to wait for what you want, as you can attain all the items on your financial wish-list if your credit rating permits you to borrow. The concept of saving to obtain the finer things of life is almost obsolete, as your dream is just one loan away.

Experience has taught me that consumer debt is easy to get into and extremely hard to come out of. If you used your credit card to buy the latest high-end smart phone and your bank account is empty, you should be questioning your priorities. Is it worth paying loan interest just to keep up with the Joneses?

Instead of borrowing to buy luxuries, save for them or try to increase your earnings to match your desired lifestyle. Once you have fallen into the debt trap, it will definitely require a lot of time and patience for you to extricate yourself and get back on the road to financial stability.

Slow but steady savings

Another area in which you have to exercise extreme patience is with your savings growth. With the low interest rates currently available on savings accounts, some people choose to forgo saving to spend, or look for more lucrative ways to turn over their money for profit.

Apart from the fact that saving teaches you about making sacrifices and builds discipline, the act of saving is essential to create a store of money for emergency purposes. You also need to save to amass lump sums that can be used for goals such as the down payment on a home.

To get the most from your savings, opt for term deposit accounts that may offer higher interest rates, and ensure that the interest you earn is added to your principal every month. With lots of time and a little patience, the magic of compound interest will allow your savings to grow exponentially.

Wait for wealth

As the saying goes, ‘poverty sucks.’ It can be hard to be patient when there’s never enough money to live in the way you truly desire. While you should aim to improve yourself financially, you must also be realistic about the time it takes for your wealth to grow.

One avenue in which many persons allow their impatience to get the better of them is with investing. People who respond to rumours about high-performing investments without doing the necessary checks to ensure that they are legitimate, often end up losing their funds.

To increase your wealth, you need to become knowledgeable about investing and business options which can help you to multiply your money. You also have to patient to wait for the opportune time to reap your rewards; remember you don’t plant an orchard today and start harvesting tomorrow.

Patience brings personal growth

Patience also refers to your ability to tolerate challenging times. If you are currently experiencing financial difficulties, take the time to understand why you are in this position, and learn what you need to do to overcome your issues. Patience will allow you to face your reality with an optimistic outlook.

Why Consumer Spending Matters to the Economy

December 6, 2016

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There are a variety of factors that determine the strength of the U.S. economy, including government spending levels, imports versus exports and currency values. Yet, the biggest factor in determining the health of the economy is based on consumer spending, which is the case in most developed countries.

According to statistics from the Federal Reserve (the Fed), expenditures from American consumers account for more than two-thirds of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the measure used to determine growth in the economy. While the role of the consumer has not always played such a dominant role in driving the economy, it has generally been responsible for 60 percent or more of economic activity dating back to the post-World War II era.

It is notable that consumers have played a more prominent role in recent decades. According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a half century ago, in 1966, consumer spending accounted for 59 percent of total GDP. By 1991, the percentage had risen to 64 percent. Today, consumer spending represents 68.1 percent of GDP, and has been in a similar range since 2008.

What is the role of consumers?

Economists and market analysts often keep a close eye on trends related to consumer activity. If consumer spending is strong, it can be an indication that most Americans have a high level of confidence in the direction of the economy. The total amount of consumer spending isn’t the only measure people keep an eye on. The types of expenditures can help determine how high consumer confidence may be at any given time. For example, if sales of luxury goods (expensive cars, jewelry) are lagging and people are putting more money into necessities like food, shelter and clothing, it may not reflect a strong vote of confidence about consumer expectations.

The data on spending plays an important role in how businesses and government agencies plan for the future. If consumers show a high level of confidence, businesses are more likely to boost spending as well to try to capitalize on the opportunity for increased sales. By contrast, if consumers are cautious about spending, businesses may invest less and government policymakers have, at times, chosen to provide stimulus through tax cuts or increased spending to help give the economy a boost.

Consumer spending trends also have a big impact on monetary policy, which is directed by the Fed. If consumer spending is lagging, the Fed can decide to reduce interest rates and take other steps to help jump-start household and business spending. If consumers are spending too much too quickly, it might signal that inflation could become a threat. The Fed may take steps, such as raising interest rates, to try and control economic growth.

What can we expect?

It’s difficult to predict what the future will hold for the markets and economy. One thing is for sure – economists and financial analysts will likely continue watching trends in consumer spending to gauge where the economy is headed.

Five Tips for Buying Your First Home

December 6, 2016

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Are you dreaming about moving into your first home? While home hunting can be exciting, the process of buying a home can be somewhat challenging. Purchasing a home is a big financial commitment – potentially one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. With some planning, you can be ready to commit to a home with confidence. Here are some tips to help you get your finances ready for purchasing a home.

Determine your down payment and monthly housing cost. In most cases, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 10-15 percent. However, it can be advantageous to make a larger payment to reduce the interest you’ll pay and avoid fees attached to low-down-payment loans. As a benchmark, your down payment generally needs to be at least 20 percent to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones with a generous relative willing to help with your down payment. If that’s the case, ask your lender about rules pertaining to cash gifts. You can determine your monthly housing cost by adding the cost of your mortgage payment, taxes and homeowners insurance. Be sure to look at the total monthly housing cost before purchasing a home to make sure it fits into your overall budget.

Get preapproved for a home loan. With preapproval in hand from a reputable mortgage company, your offer has a better chance of being accepted. Plus, you may be able to shorten the closing period since the loan approval process has been completed. Keep in mind that getting prequalified for a loan is not the same as obtaining preapproval. Prequalification is merely an estimate of how much you may be eligible to borrow based on self-reported income information – it is not a guarantee you will receive a loan. You are still required to undergo an approval process.

Approach fixer-uppers with caution. Unless you are confident the house you’re buying has been deeply discounted based on the current housing prices in your area, you may place yourself at greater financial risk if your new home requires a lot of work. To avoid over extending yourself, look for a home that is in good shape and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. However, be realistic about what you can afford. If you have the time and know-how to retile the bathroom, paint the living room or enhance the landscaping, a moderate fixer-upper could be worth the financial investment.

Limit your demands. If you want to make a compelling offer, particularly in a strong real estate market, you may want to be selective about the conditions you’re adding to your offer. An inspection contingency is smart but asking for extensive repairs may tip the scales in favor of another buyer who is less demanding.

Do your research so you’re ready to act. Buying a home can be a very emotional decision and it’s important to go into the process well prepared. Take some time to lay out your priorities and research the market. What’s most important to you long-term – resale value, location, school district, number of bedrooms? Be practical about what you can truly afford and take the time to obtain preapproval from your bank or mortgage company. When you start seriously looking, you may have to act fast if you find the perfect house. If you’re prepared and thoughtful at the beginning of the process, you’ll be in a better position to make the right move.

Five Reasons to Pay Your Bills on Time

December 6, 2016

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Not paying your bills on time might mean termination of services such as electricity or your phone, or your account could end up in collections. You could even be sued, which is costly and nerve-wracking. Even before you reach this level of stress, though, there are beneficial financial reasons to pay your bills on time.

Late fees are a no-value purchase

Late fees are free money to the company you are paying. You pay them a late fee, but you receive no value in return. What can a late fee cost you? Fees can range from a few dollars to $50 or more. Some creditors charge a late fee and add on additional finance charges, which might be calculated as a percentage of the balance owed on the account. Being late on your bill payments means you may pay enough in late fees and finances charges to cover another bill entirely.

Interest rates may go up

Some lenders include language in the contract that allows them raise your interest rates if a late payment is made. Some lenders may forgive one – or even a few – late payments, but frequent late payments can result in an increased interest. Higher interest means you pay more over the life of the account or loan. Some credit card companies will raise your interest or alter finance terms even if you miss a single payment.

Credit scores drop

Some lenders offer a short grace period of seven to 15 days. After that, they may report your account to credit bureaus as late. Usually lenders report late payments and those that are 30, 60, and 90 days past due. Late payments hurt your credit score and can impact your chances to obtain financing in the future. Late payments on your credit report may also reduce your chance for getting a good interest rate on future loans or accounts.

Internal collectors can be aggressive

Even if you pay your bills before accounts go to collections, if you make a late payment, you might have to deal with an internal collector. They can be as aggressive as collection agencies, calling you several times a day and pressuring you for payment. Sometimes, individuals make payments just to appease such collectors, but that can lead to running behind with other bills and starting the cycle over. Budgeting to pay all your bills on time prevents this from happening.

Loss of account benefits

Some accounts come with benefits, such as interest-free initial periods, cash-back bonuses, or rebates. Some creditors remove benefits from accounts when payments are late, which means you might lose access to valuable services or rewards.

8 Tips to Improve Your Financial Communication

December 6, 2016

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What makes a couple successful in their financial relationship? Ameriprise Financial surveyed over 1,500 couples (those married or living together for at least six months) to learn about their money conversations and how they make decisions. The results revealed eight ways you can improve the financial health of your relationship:

1. Understand your partner’s money mindset. It’s normal to have differing views and habits about money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t agree on your financial goals. Couples who report being on the same page financially work to understand their partner’s approach to money and keep the lines of communication open.

2. Make finances a priority and don’t give up. Couples who are willing to have the hard conversations and who work together to find financial harmony will reap the benefits over time. As you might expect, the study found that couples who had been together longer tend to have better communication and are on the same page when it comes to financial matters.

3. Agree on financial goals. It’s tough to pool your money with someone who overspends or who isn’t willing to save for the vacation you’ve always dreamed about. Sharing financial goals does bring you closer together-or at least it’s one less thing to argue about. To make it easier to save, challenge yourselves to add a timeframe to each goal so you know what you’re working toward first.

4. Assign and accept financial roles and responsibilities. Most couples split up tasks such as paying bills or monitoring investments. Clear responsibilities allow you to hold one another accountable without worrying if the cable bill was paid. However, be sure to work together on tasks such as retirement planning that requires close collaboration.

5. Invest in your future together. Make it a priority to set aside a portion of your earnings for short- and long-term goals, including retirement. Know how much you collectively have in retirement savings-a surprising 23 percent of couples are unsure of this number. If you have kids, talk about how much you’d like to contribute to their college expenses so you can save accordingly.

6. Set a spending limit. Spending habits were the leading cause of contention for couples. Consider setting a spending limit to ensure you’re on the same page as your partner regarding large expenditures. On average, couples said a purchase over $400 should trigger a discussion.

7. Understand that disagreeing is okay. According to the Ameriprise study, even couples who say they’re in financial harmony disagree on financial matters. What’s important isn’t that the partners don’t always agree, but that 82 percent resolve their issues and move on.

8. Enlist a professional to solidify your financial plan. When you need an objective opinion – or a deciding vote – meet with a financial advisor. Together the three of you can create a financial plan that meets your specific needs as a couple.

Ultimately, it feels good when you are in sync with your partner regarding financial decisions and can work together toward managing your finances. Couples who actively work on improving their financial relationship will likely be less frustrated over money matters and may even feel better about their relationship overall.




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