5 Best Ways To Get Out Of Your Bankruptcy Rut

If you have made the decision to file for Bankruptcy, you can start making an effort to repair your credit and get back on track.

The financial decisions you make after you file will impact how fast your credit can improve.

  1. Check your credit. Within a few months of your finalization of bankruptcy, check to make sure your credit reports have discharged your debts and closed accounts are properly reported. You can request one free report per year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
  2. Start a budget. You need to get your spending on track and under control. Check out our article on setting up a budget. If money is tight you may want to get an extra part time job and use that paycheck to jump start an emergency savings fund for any unexpected financial hardships. Another smart move is an emergency savings fund to help you weather unexpected financial hardship. You can set up Automatic Transfers from your checking account to a savings account. If money is tight, take a part-time job and use that paycheck to jumpstart your emergency savings fund.
  3. Pay bills on time. Bill paying habits make a huge impact on your credit score. Making on time bill payments will improve your credit score over time. Meeting payment dates is a huge step in recovering from bankruptcy.
  4. Acquire new credit but do it wisely. There are different products and services you can take advantage of to rebuild your credit. If you receive a secured credit card make sure they send reports of your payment history to the credit bureaus. Use your credit card wisely in order to build up credit only on items you can afford to show you are in control of your spending.
  5. Apply for a loan. If you want to rebuild your credit score, two years after your bankruptcy you will be eligible for an FHA loan assuming you meet qualification rules. Some lenders can even qualify you for a car loan sooner than that however it will probably be at a high interest rate.

While the formal record of a bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 7 to 10 years, its impact recedes over time. Your bankruptcy is a reflection of the past. The future is completely within your control, and how you handle your finances going forward will tell your creditors whether you in fact are a good “risk” to do business with. By following these steps to recover from bankruptcy, you improve your chances of increasing your credit score over time, and having a better financial future.

Do you have questions about filing for bankruptcy?  Please call us, The Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales & Preston, at (951) 461-2500.

Surviving College With Money To Spare

College tips for spending money wisely.

College is a fun time for any student but students should be aware of some money saving and spending tips. Check out The Law Offices Of Page, Lobo, Costales & Preston’s college money tips:

  • Setup your online banking and automate your finances. If you have bills, set them up to automatically be paid through your online banking. It isn’t a bad idea to also automatically have a little go into a savings account each month as well.
  • Open a credit card BUT only one with a small limit. We know this can be dangerous but you need to only do this if you are going to pay off the balance each month and set the limit as low as possible. Credit cards are a great way to build your credit rating.
  • Apply for scholarships – it’s free money so why not! If you are already in college, don’t worry you can still apply for a scholarship. You may be surprised at how much you can get.
  • Work while you are in college or start a side business. There are most likely plenty of job openings on campus or you can start your own business like a landscaping service or tutoring business.
  • Limit your entertainment money. Of course you will go out in college but pick your nights wisely so they stay within your budget. Or stay in and enjoy a homemade meal and drinks with your buddies.
  • Use local transportation to get around instead of a car. Most college towns offer great public transportation. Not having a car will cut down on gas bills, parking fees and regular upkeep costs.

What To Look For In A Bankruptcy Lawyer

Rule Number One: Don’t go into bankruptcy alone!

Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is one of the best moves you can make if you are filing for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy lawyer knows the ins and outs of the bankruptcy process, have done plenty of research on the topic, and have dealt with the court system for years.

 

Give Jonathon Preston from the Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston a call.

When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, it is important to keep the following in mind:

Make sure you hire an expert – It is important to find a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy. You should find out what percentage of a lawyer’s practice is comprised of bankruptcy and how many cases he has filed. It is best to avoid a “jack of all trades” type of lawyer.

You’ll get what you pay for – Of course you are already tight on money if you are filing for bankruptcy however it is important to keep the saying in mind: “You get what you pay for”. Don’t go with the least expensive lawyer because you may end up having to pay more money in the long run.

Make sure you will get detailed attention – Many law firms will run their clients through a bankruptcy mill resulting in lousy legal work, unhappy clients and wary judges and trustees. In order to spot a mill, check with your local bar association for recommendations on attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy. Most mills will not be on top of the networking which is a normal characteristic of a local bar association.

Last but not least, make sure you have a comfortable relationship with your lawyer – Picking a lawyer you are comfortable with is most important. If you don’t have a good feel about the attorney, find another one. Filing bankruptcy is an emotional roller coaster and you want to feel right about what your lawyer is doing for you.

Looking for a lawyer? Call The Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston.

How To Stay On Track Of Your Finances

A budget is a perfect way to stay on top of your money.

You can track how much you have coming in and how much is going out with a budget. It is also helpful to be able to see how much you are spending on certain things and if you can cut some unnecessary costs out.

budget tips

Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC would like to share some tips to creating a budget for yourself:

  • Set up your expenses by categories. The first category should be fixed expenses such as mortgage or rent, vehicle payments, credit card payments and household expenses like your electricity and HOA dues.
  • The next category is controllable expenses. This includes eating out, coffee at Starbucks, entertainment, manicures, etc. These are all things that are not mandatory and necessary.
  • Once your categories are lined up, add them up for each month and then for the entire year. When you add them up, you will most likely see spending patterns along with areas you can improve on.
  • Make a good estimate of what you spend by going through your checkbook and any other receipts or records you’ve kept over the past few months. Don’t be unrealistic – Avoid setting unrealistically low spending limits then become discouraged when you don’t meet them. Give yourself a little “wiggle room” just in case. As you get more comfortable with your budget each month you’ll get a better idea of where to set your spending limit.
  • Add up your budget’s list of essentials and extras separately. When you keep the lists separate you can make cuts more easily.
  • Take your total monthly income and subtract your essentials list from that. If you have money left over, subtract your extras list from that amount. If you still have money left over you should look into a savings or investment plan.
  • If you don’t have money left over and subtracting your extras list brings you into the negative, start looking for places to cut back. You can also trim up your extras list to put more money toward your debt repayment as well.
  • When you prepare your new budget, consider adding more money not only into an emergency fund, but saving for retirement, children’s college, or a dream vacation.

When Bankruptcy Is Right For You!

Bankruptcy isn’t a pretty word, but sometimes it’s the right solution.

Bankruptcy can sometimes be the best solution for your financial difficulties and can help you in many ways.

 

However, It is best to know exactly what you are getting in to and know exactly all the ramifications involved with bankruptcy.

We encourage those on the fence about bankruptcy to call our offices. We offer free consultations and would be happy to help you in determining if bankruptcy is right for you.

The following are examples of when bankruptcy may be the right solution for you:

  1. Loss Of A Job – Most people work hard to get a good, high paying job and in a lot of cases, along with a high paying job come higher living expenses. When there is a lay off or even restructuring at a place of employment, that loss of income can force people into bankruptcy.
  2. Medical Bills – Many bankruptcies are a result of high medical bills. Rare or serious diseases or injuries can easily result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills – bills that can quickly wipe out savings and retirement accounts, college education funds and home equity.
  3. Divorce – When someone gets a divorce, an income which was once used to cover one household now must be stretched out to cover two households. Many people file bankruptcy after divorce, in an attempt to clean up the mess that the divorce left in their financial life.
  4. Avoid Draining Retirement Funds – In most cases, retirement accounts are protected in bankruptcy.  When someone is considering draining retirement accounts to pay for debts, they need to consider the consequences and whether a bankruptcy would better serve their long term goals.  Those people who are at or near retirement and need retirement funds to meet their basic living expenses especially need to consider this option.
  5. Back Taxes Are Owed – Not all taxes are able to be discharged however some can be wiped out. Even when tax debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, wiping out other debt can make a payment plan to the IRS or state government possible.

5 Money Saving Tips Anyone Can Use

Looking for ways to cut back your expenses?

money savingsWith prices on just about everything going up, it is pretty common to start searching for ways to cut back costs and stretch your dollar a little further.

Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC would like share some helpful tips to saving money that just about anyone can use:

  1. Call your electric company to see how you can save money. Many offer free energy audits to see where your utility dollars are going. You can then make changes and repairs to various areas of your home to save some electricity. Also unplug EVERYTHING when you are not using it. Even phone chargers, TV’s and computers are using electricity even if they aren’t turned on!
  2. Make your own repairs at home instead of hiring someone. Many stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot offer free Do It Yourself classes where you can learn how to make minor improvements to your home all by yourself.
  3. Pay down your mortgage or put that extra money in savings. If you make an extra mortgage payment each year you can save thousands of dollars in interest of the course of a 30 year loan. However, if your interest rate is already pretty low (in the 4-5 percent range) you may be better off contributing to a 401(k) plan or paying down your higher interest credit cards.
  4. Ask for your interest rate to be lowered. If you have good payment history with your credit card company, they may agree to lower your interest rate if you just simply ask.
  5. Review your insurance rates. Many times your home and auto insurance rates can be lowered. Ask your current provider to do a review and shop around for other lower insurance rates as well.

7 Smart Things You Can Do With Your Tax Return

Planning on receiving a refund check this year for taxes?

Before you start thinking of all the fun things you can buy with this extra money, take a moment to stop and think smarter about how this extra money can be used to benefit you and your family.

tax refundPage, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC would like to share 7 smart things you can do with your tax refund:

Pay Off Your Credit Card – If you have credit card balances and are paying a high interest rate on them, use your refund to pay off or at least pay down that debt.

Build Up Your Emergency Fund – If your emergency fund is low or you are asking yourself “what is an emergency fund” this tip is for you!! Use your refund to start building up an emergency fund which will help avoid using a credit card and building up debt next time you encounter an emergency.

Get Rid Of Insurance Gaps – If you aren’t sure if you’re covered for certain disasters such as flood insurance or liability insurance, get with your insurance agent. If you are not covered, use your refund to pay for insurance that you definitely need but don’t yet have.

Get Your Retirement In Gear – Contribute your refund to your ROTH IRA which will let you withdraw your money tax-free when you retire.

Save Up For College – If you have your retirement savings in gear, use your refund to start a 529 account for college savings. You can use that money tax-free for college bills and you could get a state income tax deduction for your contribution.

Use Your Refund For A Vacation – Instead of using money you don’t have and going into debt on your vacation, use your refund to pay for your vacation you have planned for this year. If you aren’t planning to go on vacation, put it aside for Christmas presents in a few months!

Fix Up Your Home – Not that your refund will be enough to fix up your kitchen or bathrooms, it can pay for new paint or cabinets, new sinks, a remodeled closet and more. And what you put into your home, chances are you’ll get back when you sell!