Bounce It Off a Bankruptcy Attorney Instead of the Internet

Ever since the release of the phenomenon called the Internet, it seems that before people go to see a professional, they will take the time to look it up online. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet can be a wonderful tool if used properly. When it comes to financial matters in making the decision to file for bankruptcy the Internet is a good starting point, but should not be in and all. The problem with online searches is first of all, one has to make sure that it’s even in the US. Next, when it comes to information about filing bankruptcy it’s important to make sure that the material is dated. The bankruptcy code is constantly changing and information from five years ago, no longer applies to today. Sometimes an individual will find a website that has what they believe as all the answers, only to find out that the information no longer applies to their situation.

There are many blogs online that trip up individuals that are making the decision on a bankruptcy filing. People will post their questions and others will answer. The problem with this is, they really don’t know who’s answering the question. Is it someone goofing around or is it someone who has expertise in the Bankruptcy arena. The other problem with the answers to these questions is although the bankruptcy code is federal law, every state has its own twist on the law including the bankruptcy exemption laws. The qualifications to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy now vary from state to state and where someone in California might qualify to file Chapter 7 under a certain situation, it might not apply to a person in Florida.

All of this gives food for thought. This is a great way for an individual to come up with questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney before filing bankruptcy. An individual should take a little bit of time and peruse the web looking for information that they would think applies to them. Bookmark some of the pages and cross-reference them with multiple websites. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court also has a website that has some information on it that can be used. After doing diligence, take some time to jot down some questions that the person might believe applies to them. When the individual has enough information it’s time to find a bankruptcy attorney to have a consultation. A bankruptcy attorney will typically give a free consultation for someone that’s interested in filing bankruptcy. In the least, the person will probably get an hour of time from the bankruptcy attorney discussing the individual’s situation. If the attorney doesn’t believe that the person should file bankruptcy, usually they will give them some options and what direction to head in. The individuals that do not qualify the file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, can ask about filing Chapter 13 as an alternative. Before making the decision to hire the bankruptcy attorney, the individual should make sure they feel comfortable with a law office as they will be spending quite a bit of time dealing with attorney and their staff.

Back in 2005, Congress made huge changes to the bankruptcy code making it much more complex for an individual to go it alone. While filing bankruptcy can be very stressful, one shouldn’t add any more stress fighting the unknown by not having the representation of a bankruptcy attorney. They Internet has a wealth of information regarding bankruptcy filing but it’s no substitute for the expertise of a bankruptcy attorney.

The Cheaper, Better, Faster Way To Get Out of Debt

Getting out of debt is on the hotlist of New Year’s resolutions for so many people, yet there always seems to be something standing in the way of truly eliminating mounting debt. The car needs repairs and so does your home. Your kids always need school supplies and new clothes constantly as they grow. Don’t forget retirement savings and pet food for the dog; insurance bills, medical bills and the like. Where does all the money go every month? If you’re like most people, getting out of debt seems endless and daunting. Debt can sometimes be so overwhelming that we get stuck in indecision, which, by the way, is also a decision. Don’t give up. There’s hope and help, but it’s up to you to find the right direction that will save the most time and money.

If you want to achieve a goal; if you really want it, you will get there. However, you also have choices on how you arrive at your destination. You can pay your debt off like a “gazelle;” you can negotiate and settle most past due debts directly with the creditor; refinance or consolidate all debts into one giant loan; or consider a bankruptcy option to help get there. Each of these options for eliminating debt has its pros and cons. The benefits are all the same, meaning that debt will be eliminated. However, there are landmines and pitfalls everywhere.

For example, paying off debt like a “gazelle” takes longer and costs more money, but there are bragging rights and pride in avoiding debt. Are you so proud to have avoided bankruptcy that you would spend tens of thousands of dollars and your future to get there?

Another example is that of debt settlement. Many good folks believe that settling past due debts is also another great way to avoid bankruptcy and get out of debt, but they are shocked when they receive a IRS Form 1099 for the cancelled debt. They work so hard to negotiate their debts, only to get a tax bill. Plus, the irony here too, is that the credit report may not be properly updated and debt settlement does not really help improve credit scores.

We know that life is a never ending cycle of your money seemingly running through your fingers. Isn’t it time you put an end to the misery? My latest book, 5 Steps to Freedom From Debt is available on, but here are the steps outlined below:

1. Know the type and total amount of debt you owe

2. Set your financial goals

3. Explore all of your options for getting out of debt (including Bankruptcy)

4. Consult with your professionals

5. Make a well informed decision

These steps are important because so many people think that borrowing or cashing out retirement is an option for financial freedom, but they don’t talk to their tax professional about the consequences of making such a choice to eliminate debt. Spending retirement savings to pay off debt is like stealing from grandma! Combining Debt into one giant loan seems to be another popular way that folks want to help them manage, and eliminate debt. The problem with rolling debt into a single loan is that it’s more DEBT. So many honest folks will spend their future, or roll over the debt before tackling it with the bankruptcy option because they are emotionally attached to their credit score. However, when we look at all of the options for eliminating debt, we must ask ourselves, “Is this helping me get out of debt, or am I simply playing a “shell game” by shuffling the debt?”

My advice is consistent and simple, if it will take you longer than 5 years to get out of debt, you’re wasting valuable time and money and it will take you longer to retire. To put it another way, every little thing you do financially, ends up having a compound effect on your financial future. If you’re spending more than 5 years to get out of debt, you lose 5 years you could have been saving for that car, house, and retirement. You would never advise your friends to do that, so why should you?

Recently, Sally came in to my office for a consultation about her credit card debt. She was working hard to pay off her credit cards, but it seemed as if the balances never went down. For the past two (2) years Sally had struggled to keep up with minimum credit card payments and all her other bills, rent and food. I showed Sally how she could save $48,000.00 and eliminate her debt without making another single payment on it. Here’s how:

Let’s look at this from a numbers perspective:

$30,000.00 in unsecured debt at 18% interest with $500.00/mo. payments will take 13 years to pay off; paying a total amount of $78,000.00!

$30,000.00 can be FULLY paid in FIVE (5) years under a court ordered repayment plan in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy with a $500.00/mo. payments at 0% interest.

That same $30,000.00 can be discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy with NO Payments. (Bankruptcy costs and Attorney fees vary)

Let’s just focus on the difference between repaying all the debt using the “snowball” method and a bankruptcy repayment plan. The real difference here is the Eight (8) years of payments of $500.00/mo., which totals $48,000.00! So, the secret trick of facing shame and embarrassment will save both time and money.

Now imagine if you took the $48,000.00 savings and invested it in a mutual fund that earned 6% interest. After Eight (8) years, that amount would grow to be $63,744.82! The person that filed bankruptcy and fully repaid their debt in Five (5) years, who then took the $500.00 monthly payment, invested in a mutual fund that earned a 6% interest over the next eight years, not only paid off all their debt, but also made $15,744.82. Who does that? Those that take a different perspective to eliminating their debts; that’s who!

The Law Office of Christine A. Kingston is a Federal Debt Relief Agency. We help people file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. Our practice is limited to Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies, student loans and debt settlement.

Financial Assistance For Unemployed Single Mothers

Being a single unemployed mother can be a disastrous experience, especially with huge liabilities, dependability and responsibilities to shoulder. You need supplemental financial assistance and support to manage your necessities like food, shelter, education, child care, health and others with the limited fund you have.

There are exhaustive lists of monetary aid programs for unemployed mothers helping them meet the expenses of daily life and fulfill their set goals. The U.S. government, nonprofit organizations, private agencies, public associations and institutes have all come together to offset the costs of housing, education, health and medical needs through cash assistance and other supplemental programs.

List of Monetary Assistance Programs for Unemployed Mothers

College Educational Assistance

The Federal Pell Grant

Single unemployed mothers seeking to go back to college for higher degrees can apply for the Federal Pell Grant, America’s major educational program. The eligibility criteria depend on the income level and the financial need of the applicant. The grant amount has now been increased from $4050 to $5100 by President Obama for better financial assistance. Applicants must fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for the program. Schools later contact the students, offering the required educational aid.

Title IV Grants

Unemployed mothers can now avail several educational grants under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 by filing the FAFSA form. The grant programs available under this are:

• Federal Pell Grant

• Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

• National SMART Grant

• Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

• Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership and Special LEAP Grants

There are few loan programs too:

• Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL)

• Direct Loan

• Federal Perkins Loan

Many nonprofit organizations like Jeanette Rankin Foundation Scholarship Program, Seattle Milk Fund, and others also offer scholarship or grant programs to boost needy unemployed mothers for higher education.

Housing Assistance

USDA Rural Development

This rental program offers vouchers, ongoing rental assistance and subsidies to unemployed individuals that facilitates in paying monthly rent. Rural Rental Housing Loans and Housing Preservation Grants are other rental programs that offer affordable, decent and safe housing assistance.

Besides, many towns and cities also offer housing grants to unemployed single mothers with discount and mortgage plans.

Health and Nutrition Assistance

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP, earlier known as food stamp program, helps with grocery expenses and offers nutrition assistance to several unemployed low-income single mothers. It works with nutrition educators, state agencies and other local organizations to offer food aid to eligible individuals. Financial resources and household income are the basic determining criteria for eligibility.

Woman, Infant, Children Program (WIC)

WIC is a federally funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program that offers food assistance program to unemployed individuals, infants and children up to five years of age who are at nutritional risk. The program offers bread, peanut butter, juices, dairy products and other healthy food or meals for women. The funding is offered by the federal government to WIC State agencies, located in all the 50 states and also the territories.


It is a federal funded program for the needy families to provide for the cost of prenatal care, labor, delivery, and care for 60 days after birth. Age, income, disability, pregnancy and financial resources are the basic criteria for eligibility. The money is however, not paid directly, but it reimburses the doctor or any medical supplier for their service. States can opt to either offer full Medicaid coverage or even limit the funds supply to certain cases.

Utility Help

Many financially constrained unemployed mothers find it difficult to afford to stay warm in the cold winters due to high electric and heating bills. Many utility benefit programs are offered that compensate the bills and also provide weatherization services for home energy efficiency.The local or town utility company can provide information about the available programs.

Unemployed single mothers can now avail multiple assistance programs that help in fulfilling the daily needs and requirements. You can also avail the unemployment insurance program in your state for financial aid. Apply today for the funds that are all yours.

Kaushikee is an avid grant writer. She writes for many grant sites & blogs, doing thorough research work and accumulates all essential information that makes the blogs informative.

Modern Financial Advising For Beginners

The Internet is a testament to the fact that there are DIY approaches to practically every need for which one might have traditionally requested another’s assistance. Financial planning is no exception. Those looking to start investing in careers often tend to believe they are capable of creating their own success. While individual success is not completely unheard of, it is rare. Services to expand financial gain are no longer exclusively for the wealthy. In fact, according to many experts, hiring help could drastically improve one’s chances of coming out on top financially in the long run. Still, many find it difficult to initiate the process. Here are some tips from a seasoned financial advisor for beginners.

Admitting It Is The First Step

Like with any significant self-improvement, determining whether or not you need assistance is the key to financial success. Unless you are a natural at portfolio management, you probably could benefit from the help of an expert. Deciding to allow someone to help create your monetary triumph is crucial. There is no shame in needing their expertise, especially when it has become so easy to do so affordably. Many modern companies have significantly lower minimum account requirements than previously held by traditional firms. Financial advisors have never been more accessible to new investors.

Decide to Invest

According to a seasoned financial advisor, the heart of financial planning can be summed up pretty simply: “You either have a plan, or you don’t.” Those without a specific approach often fail. After recruiting assistance, dedication to investment is crucial. Realize that attention to the status of your current portfolio is an investment into the status of your future portfolio. Decide that you are going to take a guided, methodical path to a more comfortable financial end. Sporadic, overly passive investment approaches are common pitfalls of individual investors who fail when attempting to go it alone. A solid strategist will encourage your desires by motivating you to remain dedicated to your plan. Remember-the sooner you begin planning, the longer your plan has to succeed.

Focus On The Future; Be Aware of The Present

The end goal of investment is the future increase. Trends in finance are constantly changing. A financial advisor can be of great assistance in this area, being more knowledgeable of these changes in a way that will increase the probability of multiplying your returns. Vigilant monitoring of the current climate is vital. Be sure that you have enlisted the assistance of someone who is dedicated to such surveillance. While your strategy might not necessarily always be comfortable, keep in mind that your future will be.

With the widened availability of financial advisors, it is more realistic than ever to begin investing. Regardless of the account size bracket into which you fall, there is undoubtedly a service for you. Realize that hiring a partner and having a plan are ways of presently managing your future. In the wise words of an experienced CFP, “The first step in planning is deciding to have one.”

What Is a “Stalking Horse” Buyer in Bankruptcy?

A “stalking horse” buyer in bankruptcy is business-entity buyer that has prearranged to purchase a company’s assets during a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Essentially, the company in bankruptcy is attempting to leave nothing to chance: they have already made plans to sell their business or property to another business entity usually BEFORE the bankruptcy case is filed. The bankruptcy itself is the mechanism to allow the “stalking horse” to make this very efficient, debt reducing transaction.

How Did Such a “Colorful” Term Originate?

Did you know this term is all about hunting for birds (fowl)? In medieval times, a horse (or just a fabric cover with the picture of a horse) was placed in front of a hunter as a blind (a hunting term) to conceal the hunter as he approached fowl. The hunter behind the stalking horse patiently waited to approach their prize – just as modern companies patiently wait in the shadows to approach with their offer on the bankrupt company’s assets.

The word “stalk” in modern English can be defined as “to pursue or approach stealthily.” It comes from Germanic roots that imply a “cautious walk.” When a company pursues and negotiates the terms of a “stalking horse” offer, they approach “stealthily” many times and walk cautiously in hopes of attaining their prized goal: acquiring valuable parts of a company without acquiring their heavy debt load.

The Value of S.H. Transactions in Bankruptcy: Foreseeable Outcomes and Restored Productivity

Regardless of the legitimacy or source of the offer, the prize of a successful transaction such as this in bankruptcy cannot be overstated. A “stagnant” debt situation with a company can potentially be replaced with restored or newly created productivity on every side. Creditors are repaid, the old company systems are no longer doomed for failure, and the buyer usually acquires very useful, debt-free assets.

Although this concept always seems a little “suspect” due to its prearranged nature, the transaction is VERY useful and fair to all parties usually if no fraud is involved. It provides a foreseeable mechanism for protecting existing employees and systems of a company. Company assets are thoughtfully “reassigned” and reorganized instead of ran into the ground. Remember, no S.H. offer is a 100% “done deal” before the bankruptcy filing: all offers must be both approved by the court and must compete with any other offer proposed to the court.

The Danger of S.H. Transactions in Bankruptcy: The Potential for Fraud and Insider Offers

By its very name, “stalking horse” implies a sense of danger and hidden intention. Although there are many appropriately used, productivity-restoring S.H. transactions, there are also instances of fraud and misuse. A good indicator for whether a stalking horse transaction may be fraudulent is simple: does the deal sound too good to be true for any party? If the deal is too good to be true, the creditors are very likely being cheated through the transaction.

With bad offers, the problem usually comes from some sort of “insider” situation. The most common of these problems is when an “alter ego” company attempts to buy out the bankrupt company’s assets and operations. Essentially, in such situations, the “old” company may be attempting to dump their debt with a very low price tag and then restart with a new name.

Such insider-style offers CAN be valid, but many times the “deal” in such a situations greatly undervalues the “bankrupt” company’s assets through the presentation of the offer and the bankruptcy schedules. Remember, in such situations, the two entities involved are so closely related that they could be considered the same party. Depending upon the severity of the situation, the result could be anywhere from an offer rejected by court parties or even a finding of bankruptcy fraud.

Other stalking horse problems in bankruptcy usually always stem from some sort of insider benefit situation or from lack of appropriate valuation and disclosure. High-level employees of corporations tend to support deals where they retain their employment. In addition, the incentive to appropriately value company assets is in the creditors’ favor only. The creditors may be very high in number with a lack of collective organization.

Even though competing offers and court supervision is required, a stalking horse is still a stalking horse. The agenda is very specific and prearranged: creditors need to review their position in such a pre-arranged agenda with healthy skepticism. Adequate research into the “bankrupt” company’s real intentions is paramount in protecting the creditors.

Conclusion: Good or Bad, A Stalking Horse is still a Stalking Horse

A horse waits patiently in approach of its prey concealing the intentions of the hunter behind it. Such is the picture of the stalking horse offer in bankruptcy: whether good or bad, fair or unfair, the “hunter” is dead-set on his prize. Because of the prearranged nature of stalking horse offers, it is very important that all parties involved thoroughly investigate the proposed offer to reveal the real intentions and identity of this “hunter.” The stalking horse offer always has a specific agenda behind it that needs to be reviewed by ALL potential parties to investigate whether it is the best solution (or offer) for resolving the “bankrupt” company’s debt situation.