Surviving a Bankruptcy Filing

You can’t turn on the TV or even your computer these days without hearing about someone filing bankruptcy. In California many cities are starting to fall to bankruptcy because of their overspending in the past. For most of them, they were spending based on a false economy caused by the real estate boom. It seemed like there was no end in sight as banks were lending 125% of the value of a piece of property. With everyone jumping on the bandwagon cities found themselves giving unsustainable raises and pensions to their employees. When the financial crisis hit in 2008 no one thought that this would be that bad. I remember talking to realtors who told me that this was a bump in the road and the market would come back quickly. Not to sound like a doomsday preacher I would argue the point that the prices never should’ve gotten as high as they did. After everything started collapsing, everyone started pointing fingers at each other over who’s to blame. The bottom line is, these homeowners and consumers have to be accountable for their actions. In what world does a person making $35,000 a year live in a $500,000 home? It’s now become time for everyone to pay the piper and that’s why the number of those using bankruptcy filing as a way out of debt will continue to rise.

Hopefully, most Americans will learn from their mistakes and budget themselves to avoid this from ever happening again. A bankruptcy filing will be an emotional and stressful experience for anyone to go through. This even includes the politicians that made bad decisions putting their cities in financial limbo. For the individual, filing bankruptcy can be a freeing process that allows a person to start completely over. In the Bible it talks about a seven year release of debt and that’s where bankruptcy came from. Originally, a person could file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy every seven years until the bankruptcy code was modified in 2005. The credit industry and many lobbied Congress to make extreme changes to the bankruptcy code because they believe that too many people were abusing the system. To this day the argument still is on.

Choose A Knowledgeable Bankruptcy Attorney in Chicago

When filing for bankruptcy in Chicago, the lawyer you choose has a big impact on the success of your case. If you select a lawyer that is not familiar with the local codes- by possibly filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy when Chapter 7 was less risky- the process becomes more difficult and your assets are put at risk. When choosing a bankruptcy attorney, Chicago residents must select carefully.

Bankruptcy filings in Chicago have increased 139% from 2006 to 2010. Not all attorneys specialize in these types of financial cases, but that might not stop them from taking your money, so choose carefully. The wrong lawyer may overlook potential pitfalls with the case. As a result, your case gets dismissed, you are forced to attend additional hearings, and your property and assets are at risk.

Although there are federal rules that apply to these cases, every district court has its own local rules to follow. In Chicago, Chapter 7 applicants must attend credit counseling and debtor education courses, for example. A lawyer familiar with Chicago’s bankruptcy laws will help you avoid stumbling blocks and move your case forward with fewer problems.

Lawyers are paid according to the complexity of the case and the chapter of the code being applying under. With Chapter 13, Chicago district courts often set guidelines as to the maximum allowable charges, although they can still be expensive as they are the more complex of the two filings. Get several quotes for legal fees before you proceed.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings for self-employed debtors are usually more complex than a Chapter 7 filings for unemployed debtors with no assets. In Chicago, minorities are filing 10 times as many Chapter 13 cases as whites. Without good legal representation, they may be putting much more at risk. Take the time to question your lawyer at length regarding why you would choose one filing type over the other.

In Chicago, if the debtor experiences further financial setbacks then a Chapter 13 plan can be amended or converted to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Find a lawyer who will complete the necessary paperwork for you.

When hiring a bankruptcy attorney, Chicago residents will want to choose a person that is attentive to their needs and understands the ins and outs of Chicago’s local systems and codes. The lawyer should have sufficient experience to work in your best interest, which means they must be familiar with rules that can affect the outcome of the case. Ensure the best results and protect your assets!

Fun Things to Do When You’re Low on Money

So it’s the weekend or holidays and your bank balance is dismal. The days can really seem quite long and boring when you have little or no money for entertainment. It seems the ability to spend money has made us a bit laid back on being creative with how we spend our time.

Have you ever watched little kids play? They are able to turn almost any object they can get into an interesting plaything complete with names and storyline. I know my kids do that all the time. They can even keep at it for hours at a time. With a bit of creativity and imagination, even adults can forget the daily grind of money matters and just have plain, cheap fun. Here are 15 fun things you can do on a very low or no budget at all!

1. Play board games: Board games are a fun, cheap way for families to spend time together. All the intrigues and goofing can make for lots of fun and bonding too. Most of them come with instructions and the most popular ones include Chess, Monopoly, Backgammon, Checkers and educational games like Scrabble and Pictionary.

2. Go on a bike ride: Alone or as a group biking is fun and gets some exercise in too. Try pushing yourself by exploring new terrain (but not after dark).

3. Take a walk around your neighborhood: Get out of the house and stretch your limbs by taking a slow casual walk around where you live. The fresh air and scenery will take your mind off money for a while anyway.

4. Take your kids to the local park or playground: If you don’t have kids around you could volunteer to take your nephews or nieces. It would be a lot of fun watching the kids laugh and play and the most it would cost you would probably be a scoop of ice cream per child. You’ll become their favourite Aunt or Uncle in no time.

5. Learn a new art project online and teach your family or friends: There are so many fantastic websites that teach art projects completely free. Some are designed specifically for kids and others for adults. The range of choice is awesome and many of the projects are truly mind-blowing. The great thing about this is many of these sites use old items you can easily find lying around the house to create keepsakes you would be proud of. The added advantage for kids is that it helps to bring out their creativity too. I bet you will be able to keep them occupied for long making these projects.

6. Have a campout on the garden lawn: There are so many things you could do with a campout this point actually deserves an article of its own. Basically be creative and plan ahead. Invite a few friends or just keep it in-house with your close family. Include fun games, water splashes, a sizzling barbecue and of course scary stories. Try putting up funny looking decorations round your lawn and lights they look fantastic after dark and don’t forget the tents.

7. Check out the library: When last did you visit one? Many of them have new improved books, CDs and DVDs you could borrow. Or just sit there and read for a while, you never know you may meet someone interesting and make new friends.

8. Bake or cook something new: The aim here is to spend little or nothing so don’t go overboard. Search round your kitchen cabinet for some ingredients you have not used in a while (please check the use by date first) and come up with a new recipe or just a dish you have not made in a while.

9. Teach your friends a craft: Do you have a craft you could teach? Can you sew, knit, sculpt or mold? Why not gather a few friends or colleagues from the office and show them how it’s done? Everyone could volunteer to bring a couple of drinks or dishes along but not expensive ones. If someone else in the group also has another skill, you can take turns.

10. Pay a visit to the local hospice or orphanage: Find out if you have a children’s hospital or orphanage in your town and what are the rules for visiting. If they do accept visitors, make a habit to visit even if just once a month. With time you could even begin to offer free services like reading to the children or singing.

11. Volunteer to visit a retirement home: Give back to society by sparing a few hours of your time to visit the elderly. Many of them may not have had any visitors in months.

12. Set up a blog if you are up to it: A platform like Blogger or WordPress offers an opportunity for you to express your views and interests and best of all its free!

13. Make a plan for the next 5 or 10 years: If you don’t already have one, this is a great time to write what you want to achieve in every aspect of your life in a few years. Where are you now and where do you hope to be? How do you intend getting there? Write it and start following through.

14. Spend quality time with your partner or spouse: Talk about issues you don’t normally have time for or just give each other a cheap spa treatment or massage.

15. Have an in-house movie night: Let your friends come over each one with their favorite films. Create a cinema setting by switching off the lights and providing popcorn, drinks and comfy blankets to sit or lie on. Have more fun by laughing at each other’s choice of movies.

There you have it. It’s not that hard when you set your mind to it. Try to deemphasize spending money all the time and look inwards more. This way you learn new things and also save some money you would have otherwise spent.

Reasons To Decide To File Bankruptcy Now V Waiting

Nobody wants to file bankruptcy, but sometimes it’s a necessity and a good option to get a fresh start.

Here are the top three reasons given by most people as to why they don’t want to file bankruptcy right now:

1. I will try to resolve the debt on my own or through debt consolidation or debt settlement.

Sure – creditors are willing to accept less than what’s owed, but the only way it works is if you have cash to pay them quickly! (Creditors are typically willing to accept 35% to 60% of what’s owed to them, but you must pay them off now.) It does not work otherwise. Beware of debt consolidation or debt settlement companies as they charge a large fee for setting up a savings account for you to then try to use to settle. They will not stop the ongoing harassment or lawsuits.

2. I don’t have the money to pay an attorney to file bankruptcy.

Keep in mind you’re paying fees to get rid of substantial amounts of debt that far exceed the amount most attorneys will charge.

Paying an attorney to file bankruptcy gives you a much greater return on your money. Most offer convenient payment plans so you can pay your fees and costs to file the bankruptcy easier than you think. (If you’re going to file bankruptcy my recommendation is to stop paying the rest of your unsecured debt as in most cases that debt will be discharged.)

Also beware of using a document preparer/paralegal to file your bankruptcy. While this type of service can ultimately save money, it can sometimes cost you more money in the long run. Because they are not actual attorneys, they cannot offer any legal advice to those filing for bankruptcy; without proper advice, you could potentially lose assets and/or have other major problems with your case. I’ve had many people come to me after their filing to try to correct problems – by that time, it is oftentimes too late.

3. I’m going to ignore the creditors (and hope they go away).

Unfortunately creditors will not go away. They may sell the debt to collectors, who can be even more aggressive than the original creditor. If you ignore the collection efforts, lawsuits will occur, and if judgments are obtained, garnishment of wages and bank accounts can occur, liens can be placed on real property, etc. Ignoring the creditors is not a good option.

Also if you wait to file, and your circumstances change (i.e. you receive an inheritance, you receive a lump sum disability award, you win the lottery, etc.), you may not be able to file bankruptcy then. Unforeseen circumstances can severely limit your options.

For those people that don’t make the decision to file bankruptcy, I guarantee I will see you back in my office, whether it be 4 months from now or a year or two down the road. If you wait, you’re that much more delayed when you could already be on the road to recovery.


Kathy Johnson has a reputation for being honest and respectful of your particular situation. She is compassionate, nonjudgmental and extremely knowledgeable. She offers genuine and real help for people who are in a difficult situation. Kathy is respectful of her clients’ desires and is very careful not to pressure individuals into filing for bankruptcy. In fact, she offers as many options as possible for clients, letting them know that bankruptcy is just one of a number of tools that may be used to resolve pressing financial conditions.

Kathy also understands that bankruptcy can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience for some people. She takes the time to explore all options and to explain in great detail what is involved with bankruptcy and what life after bankruptcy will be like.

Easily Build Your Business Credit Simple Steps

Business Credit is credit that is obtained in a Name. With credit, the business builds its own credit profile and credit score. With an established credit profile and score, the business will then qualify for credit. This credit is in the name and based on the business’s ability to pay. Since the business qualifies for the credit, in some cases there is no personal credit check required from the business owner.

A starts building a brand new credit profile much the same as a consumer does. The starts with no credit profile. The business gets approved for new credit that reports to the business credit reporting agencies. The uses the credit and pays the bill timely. A positive business credit profile is established. As the business continues using the credit and pays bills timely it will qualify for more credit.

A cell or home phone number as your main business line could get you “flagged” as an un-established business that is too high of a risk. DON’T give a personal cell phone or residential phone as the business phone number. You can forward a virtual number to any cell or landline phone number.

Credit providers will research your company on the internet. It is best if they learned everything directly from your company website. Not having a company website will severely hurt their chances of obtaining business credit. There are many places online that offer affordable business websites so you can have an internet presence that displays an overview of your company’s services and contact information.

It is important to get a company email address for your business. It’s not only professional, but greatly helps your chances of getting the thumbs up from a credit provider. Setting up a business email address is just too easy and inexpensive to neglect.

One of the most common mistakes when building credit for your company is non-matching business addresses on your business licenses. Even worse is not having the “required” licenses for your type of business to operate legally. You will need to contact the State, County, and City Government offices to see if there are any required licenses and permits to operate your type of business.

A business credit report can be started much the same as a consumer report commonly is, with small credit cards. The business can be approved for small credit cards to help them build an initial credit profile. These types of initial cards in the business world are commonly referred to as “vendor credit”.

A vendor line of credit is when a company (vendor) extends a line of credit to your business on “Net 15, 30, 60 or 90” day terms. This means that you can purchase their products or services up to a maximum dollar amount and you have 15, 30, 60 or 90 days to pay the bill in full. So if you’re set-up on Net 30 terms and were to purchase $300 worth of goods today, then that $300 is due within the next 30 days.

Always apply first without using your SSN. Some vendors will request it and some will even tell you on the phone they need to have it, but submit first without it. When your first Net 30 account reports your “tradeline” to Dun & Bradstreet, the DUNS system will automatically activate your file if it isn’t already. This is also true for Experian and Equifax.