Archive for the ‘Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling’ Category

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

NY Mets Taking First Step Toward Bankruptcy?

In a statement released last week, the New York Mets (i.e. the city’s non-Yankees baseball team) announced that it was enlisting the help of a financial firm known as a “turnaround specialist and bankruptcy consultant,” as the New York Times puts it.

In 2010, the company helped oversee the bankruptcy filing of the Texas Rangers. But while the Mets are reportedly facing some pretty serious debt burdens (including $400 million owed to several banks and $25 million owed to Major League Baseball), the team has not given any other public or official indication that it is considering a bankruptcy filing. Still, the consultation with the bankruptcy-focused firm suggests that the team is certainly considering court protection.

So what can individuals learn from the Mets’ maneuvers? Primarily that the bankruptcy process should begin long before an individual actually files his or her bankruptcy petition with the court. For most individuals, the bankruptcy process really begins during the information-gathering period.

Talk with the Right People Before Choosing Bankruptcy

Like the Mets, those considering personal bankruptcy can and should consult with knowledgeable sources before deciding whether or not to file a petition with the bankruptcy court. Individuals have a few choices about whom to speak to:

  • A credit counselor: Many credit counseling organizations provide free or low-cost financial evaluations for consumers in need of guidance about whether or not to file for bankruptcy. Credit counselors run by community groups often charge little or nothing for leading consumers through a non-bankruptcy debt elimination process. And if you do decide to seek bankruptcy protection, the court requires a pre-filing credit counseling session anyway.
  • A bankruptcy lawyer: Most bankruptcy lawyers offer free initial consultations during which they can help clients determine whether filing for bankruptcy makes sense financially. After that consultation, the client can move forward with bankruptcy or a bankruptcy alternative confident that his or her decision will work in his or her own best interest.
  • An accountant: Those who work with an accountant or tax preparer regularly may find consulting with this person useful as part of the bankruptcy-consideration process. Small business owners may be best served by an accountant’s opinion.

The Importance of A Well-Informed Bankruptcy Decision

Filing for bankruptcy is a major financial step in anyone’s life, and should not be undertaken lightly. Further, waiting until the last possible minute to file for bankruptcy can have detrimental effects on an individual’s or family’s finances.

By starting the bankruptcy process well ahead of actually filing a bankruptcy petition, individuals set themselves up for a less stressful (and potentially more successful) bankruptcy process. For many Americans struggling with debt burdens, consulting a financial or bankruptcy professional is the first step in making a decision about bankruptcy.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Bankruptcy Prevention: The Summer Job

Unless you’ve been living underground for the past year or so, you probably know that now is generally a tough time to be hunting for a job.

But that doesn’t mean  you should give up without trying to find a source of income in the off-season. Finding a job may not be easy this summer, but it could be the one thing that keeps you out of bankruptcy. Here are some tips to maximize your odds.

Get started early. Even before finishing finals, those college students planning to work over the summer should begin the job hunt. This will give you a head start over less forward-thinking peers. You can even tell potential employers that you’re willing to work a few hours a week until the end of classes, then amp up your time commitment.

Use your connections. Sure, most teenagers don’t rub elbows with high-powered CEOs, but they do have important networks available to them. Talk to neighbors, teachers, guidance counselors and family members. You never know who might need summer help (or know someone who does).

Be your own cheerleader. Interviews are no time for modesty or self-deprecation. When you’re speaking with a potential employer, talk yourself up: mention academic and extra-curricular achievements, leadership roles you’ve had and other accolades you’ve earned.

Look in likely places: Some employers have jobs that are more teen-friendly than others. Consider applying to swimming pools, movie theatres, fast-food restaurants, valet jobs and even banks. Ask friends and relatives where they’ve worked in past summers – sometimes unexpected venues provide great summer gigs.

Get creative: Convinced that no one in your area is hiring? Think outside the box: many busy people are happy to relieve themselves of certain chores for the right price. Try offering your services as a babysitter, personal shopping assistant to a retiree, lawn mower or errand-runner. These jobs may not pay especially well, but a little money’s better than nothing.

Mind your manners on interviews: No matter what the dress code for the job you’re applying to, dress nicely for an interview. Avoid chewing gum, smile often and send a hand-written thank you note afterwards.

Go for a second summer: If you’ve worked somewhere in the past, apply there again (assuming it wasn’t too awful). You’ll be attractive to your employer because you won’t need training and you aren’t a gamble like new applicants.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Even if you don’t find a job right away, keep looking. It won’t be easy to find employment right now, but tenacity could well pay off.

If you’re having trouble making it paycheck to paycheck or if you’re having difficulty paying your bills, it may be time to assess your debt levels objectively.

Debt Test

This debt test involves a series of questions concerning your debt levels. Simply answer the yes/no questions to discover how you may be able to improve your financial situation.

Debt Calculator

Enter your current debt and interest rate(s) into this debt calculator. Through this calculator, you can see what may lie ahead for you in paying off your debt.

Reasons for Mounting Debt

One of the most important things to remember about debt is that you’re not alone. Everything from compulsive shopping and gambling to growing medical expenses, job loss, divorce, injury and unexpected expenses is leading to increasing levels of debt for Americans today.

If the burst of the real estate bubble and the exposure of high-level con artists reveal anything about investing it’s that even those who are “in the know” aren’t always sure of what’s happening with their money.

So don’t feel bad that your finances have gotten out of control – take this as a sign that it’s time to start over.

Learn more about how a bankruptcy attorney may help you analyze your debt situation.

USA Today reports that banks are making it easier for Americans to overdraw their bank accounts. The $17.5 billion Americans paid in bank overdraft fees in 2006 was up 70 percent from the $10.3 billion they paid were charged in 2004.

In the 1990s, banks began automatically covering overdrawn transactions, for a fee. These fees now average $34 per transaction.

Banks are also making it easier to overdraw your accounts. A growing number of banks are allowing debit card transaction when there are insufficient funds in your account. More banks are clearing checks from the highest amount to the lowest, thus allowing the bank to charge more fees.