Who gets money when everyone can't be paid must be a decision
you make based on your own situation, not who calls you the most or who
you owe what to. In most cases the creditor receiving top priority will
be the first mortgage holder on your home. This obligation likely represents
a debtor's largest payment. Human tendency evidences payments to smaller
creditors when money gets tight. Often credit cards and second mortgages
may be paid in full once first mortgage payments cease. This results in
a short sighted solution. Soon your credit becomes blemished anyway and
foreclosure on your home follows. Negotiating with first mortgage holders
can be more difficult than with other creditors. Stop and think of this:
If faced with the options of losing a credit card or losing your home which
would you choose? Either one may be a valid answer depending on personal
circumstances. Your response to these and other questions should dictate
To properly evaluate your situation try the following
- Figure out how much you saved or spent from savings to
live last month. This number should be a hard fact. Either you added to
an account or needed to borrow from savings, friends or relatives to make
ends meet. Write this number down put it aside.
- Make a list of all available income for the month.
- Use the regular net income of both spouses.
- Do not include inconsistent items such as occasional
overtime, tax refunds, or gift proceeds.
- Are working children or other adults living in the home
who could contribute funds? This comment always meets with a lot of resistance,
but when the other option may be losing the house, it must be examined!
- Make a list of extra income available.
- What savings can be used?
- Do you have available credit lines or available cash
advances from credit cards?
- Can you borrow money from friends or relatives?
- Look under the sofa cushions (or any others sources which
may be unique for you - a 401K plan or whole life insurance policy perhaps).
- Make a list of all monthly expenses. (We prepared a monthly
expense interactive-form to help clients having us evaluate their debt track expenses
they may not have thought of. You are welcome to go
to the interactive budget form.)
- Essential Expenses - Food, that's it for this category.
- Very Important Expenses
- First Mortgage (or rent)
- Other Mortgages
- Transportation for work
- Important Expenses
- Transportation - other
- Credit Card Payments (if credit remains good)
- Regular Expenses
- Most daily expenses
- Household goods
- Credit card payments (if credit is already tarnished)
- Luxury Expenses
- Wasteful Expenses
- Gambling or Playing the lottery
- Falling victim to scams
- Obtain your credit report. If you can wait a week or
two or if you have recently been turned down for credit
or you suspect fraudulent items on your report you may be able to get a
free report. New laws allow everyone to see their report free once a year now in any case, you can learn how in the credit guide.
If you don't want to wait or would not qualify for a free report you may
one here instantly for about $16, follow the links for the credit report. You may want to spent a few dollars more to learn your credit score as well. I have another article just on credit repair and rebuilding for more information on that subject or you can enroll for the free credit improvement guide I built. For more information about your credit you can read an FAQ to understand credit scores or an article explaining what is bad credit.
- Complete a personal financial statement.
- Prioritize assets. Which do you need to keep, would like
to keep, wouldn't mind keeping, and which would you just as soon get rid
- Which liabilities are reported to credit bureaus?
- Does the net monthly figure on the form match the number
you put aside back at item #1? Probably not, this time include everything
you spend. Make up categories or call items miscellaneous. Go over the
expense section again and again. Self employed debtors may need to revisit
the income entries. When you have a net figure matches what really occurred
proceed. Click here to do this budget analysis online.
- Honestly evaluate your problem. Is it long term or short
term? Has it been solved or is there a date certain when it will be? Will
it reoccur? Is it permanent?
This would be where I reveal the
magic formula, but unfortunately none exists. If the answer to each question
above were a simple yes or no there would still be thousands of combinations.
So which is the best path from here? Contact a debt professional to help
you. An attorney who concentrates in debt workouts would be my first choice.
Be careful, finding this type of lawyer can be very difficult. Surprisingly
few attorneys have any expertise in this field. You will most likely discover
firms who advertise themselves under a bankruptcy heading. While most bankruptcy attorneys can complete the paperwork to file a chapter 7 or chapter 13 for you, they
won't be inclined to discuss other options. Many have never done these
negotiations, some don't even know settlements exist. Others claim to understand
this concept but prove to be inexperienced or inept. Filing bankruptcies
in volume can be quick easy money for the law firm. Do not fall into this
If you can not afford a lawyer look for a non-profit organization
such as Consumer Credit Counseling Service. Be wary of individuals or for
profit agencies offering these services. Some don't possess the knowledge
to complete the task, others are out right thieves. Many just take your
money and put you in touch with a lawyer they have selected based on fee
arrangements between themselves and the attorney, not on the attorney's
Sometimes people who have never been late on a payment in their whole life think they have a financial crisis when find themselves making payments a few days late. Often if your credit has not gone bad yet and you still have a strong income a debt consolidation loan or a credit card balance transfer may be all you need. Be wary that these choices in the wrong circustances escalate the problems and deepen the issues. Be even more careful about using emergency savings and most cautious of all about accessing retirement funds.
|No matter what you do take an active role. Educate yourself, learn about the various debt options and be a part of both the professional selection and decision making process.
Lawyers may try to push you toward a bankruptcy filing, consumer agencies
lean against it. This does not mean you should do your own negotiations
any more than you should take out your own appendix. Saying you can't afford
a lawyer is like being too sick to go to the doctor. Lets take this analogy
one step further. If most bankruptcy attorneys were doctors they would
operate on every patient who came in with a slight stomach ache. Some consumer
agencies would tend to keep a patient on antibiotics and not operate even
if it meant the patient would live in the hospital for the next ten years.
Many debtors ignore their credit card debt or mortgage foreclosure problem so long they need one or the other or something inbetween. Don't
let any talk you into a debt help solution just because they say so.
Below I have included guidelines to follow. Use them to
better understand your situation so you may take a more active and informed
role in your future. These should not be used as a "do it yourself"
program, get professional help whenever possible. The guide may also be
used to help weed out incompetents in this area. If someone's advice sounds
contrary to most of what I'm saying you may have an unusual situation or
you may be talking to a quack. If you sense you're in a duck marsh get
a second opinion. If you think you're not being properly represented and
you verify this don't be afraid to switch lawyers or hurt their feelings.
Losing a client they never should have advised in the first place won't
change their life. Losing your house or filing an unnecessary bankruptcy
will surely change yours. To find out more about debt options, click
- If you want to save your home, pay your mortgage first.
If you are already behind formulate a way to catch up, then call the bank,
tell them your plan and why it will work. Do the same for all mortgages
- Communicate with your creditors. Don't wait until you
get in trouble. Before you miss a payment give them a call and let them
know you need help and why.
- Never waste money. No lottery, no gambling, no get rich
quick schemes. Be very wary of scam artists, they will be out to find you.
- If your credit has already turned sour don't try to rebuild
credit until the current problems have been resolved.
- Paying more than the minimum payments on credit cards
does not give you a better credit rating.
- Don't become emotionally attached to any asset. Re-evaluate
all of your possessions and don't be afraid to give them up. Should you
be driving that Lexus or would you be better off in an Escort for a while?
Maybe necessity dictates moving to a smaller house or a less affluent neighborhood. Evaluate your assets and property without emotional attachments.
- Identify the cash drains and plug them up. This may mean
closing a business or losing an income property.
- If you are not making mortgage payments or they won't
accept your checks save the money. Don't spend it on other
bills. You may need it to save the house. The one ranks as one of the worst mistakes people make when facing foreclsoure.
- Don't make arrangements you won't be able to keep. Tell
creditors what you can really do, not what you think they want you to say. Often professional foreclosure negotiators or unsecured debt negotiators can get a better deal for you.
- Do not spend money on house repairs if you may be losing
- Explore all options but be ready for the worst, including
an exploration of the rental market.
- Formulate a plan as soon as you see the first sign of
trouble do not wait!
- If home foreclosure looms above you ignore the collection
agencies from the unsecured creditors. You have more important things to
worry about. Don't let them bully you into giving them anything. You may
need every cent to save your home.
- Don't waste money or flaunt your spending. I once heard
the story of a debtor who had almost completed negotiations with a bank
for a deeply discounted settlement. When the loan officer called to finalize
the plan she was told the debtor was vacationing in the Caribbean. She
figured if he could afford the trip he could afford to pay her in full
and the deal was off.
- Don't file for bankruptcy unless it's really the right
thing to do. It's not the only option many alternatives to bankruptcy await your exploration. If your attorney doesn't explain
the other options find a new bankruptcy attorney. If the bankruptcy option works the
best for your situation don't be afraid or ashamed to do it. Use this site to get a free second opinion before filing bankruptcy.
- Find the time to deal with this problem. If your house
matters to you, this is more important than almost anything else. If you
hate the house anyway, don't pour money in to save it, explore other residence
- You will not be put in jail for falling behind on your
payments. You will not be shunned by the whole community. Most people will
never know about your situation unless you tell them. Yes, this even goes
for small towns with legal notices in the paper. Those who do find out
will soon forget. Personal issues always interlace with your debt issues, but you can not chart your course based on your emotion alone.
- Don't pour money into black holes. If your situation
has taken a permanent downturn to the point that an asset will ultimately
be lost stop wasting savings or current income just to delay the inevitable.
You will need that money for other things, such as finding a rental after
- If you have bad consumer spending habits including but not limited to shopping addiction or compulsive spending change the way you budget money even if it means seeing a mental health profesional for help.
- Don't spend money on big gifts or celebrations. Your
daughter would surely rather have a smaller wedding than homeless parents.
- If you have been able to save some money don't leave
it at a bank you owe money to. They might be able to take it from you without
- Once in the foreclosure process call a lawyer before
paying anything. When you've reached this stage little time remains. You'll
need someone familiar with all legal options.
- If you really want to keep the house be prepared to work
for it. This may mean cutting items you thought were essential like cable
TV; or getting a second job.
- Think twice before not paying income taxes or your employees
withholding or FICA match. These will probably not be dischargeable in
- Once you know you will be filing a bankruptcy do not
run up a bill or credit card subject to discharge. This would be fraud,
not to mention non-dischargeable.
- Perhaps the most important, don't lose hope and don't
Bankruptcy Alternatives / Debtor's
FAQs examining the debt itself, personal issues and many
resolution options including workouts, payment and bankruptcy.
Sites for debtors on bankruptcy, workouts, credit counseling,
IRS, credit rebuilding, and more! US, UK and Canada.
Mortgage Sources USA
Links to residential lenders and mortgage brokers
throughout the United States offering loans to borrowers with credit problems,
bankruptcy or foreclosures on their credit report. Apply
On-Line service available.
Nothing contained herein should be construed to constitute
advice for your personal circumstances. This is intended as a peripheral
exposure to the various options available, but by no means is this a comprehensive
or exhaustive analysis of the bankruptcy laws or their alternatives. Whether
or not you should file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or
any bankruptcy, will vary depending on your personal circumstances and
should only be undertaken after careful consideration, analysis and after
consultation with an attorney experienced with such matters. These pages
may contain information and rules peculiar to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This material may be considered advertising under
the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
Web site design by Mory Brenner. This page, and all contents,
are Copyright (C) 2010 by
Financial Firebird Corporation, 150 North Street Suite 40, Pittsfield,
The most recent update of this page occured on 06/23/10.